Phil Mickelson and Charley Hoffman, come on down!
You’re the next contestants in the Presidents Cup. U.S. team captain Steve Stricker made it official Wednesday evening, revealing the two players he has handpicked to round out his 12-man roster at Liberty National Golf Club later this month.
“It was unanimous,” Stricker said of his two picks from Cherokee Golf Club, near his home in Madison, Wis. “It was truly a team choice.”
Nick Price, the International skipper, also named his two wildcard picks and likewise said his selections were unanimous: Emiliano Grillo of Argentina and Anirban Lahiri of India.
In the weeks leading up to Wednesday’s announcement, golf pundits had tossed the names of other candidates into the running, including Brian Harman, Jason Dufner and Gary Woodland. But in the end, Stricker went the route that many predicted he would, selecting the highest-ranked player (Hoffman) in the President Cup standings outside of the automatic qualifying top 10, along with the player (Mickelson) with the most impressive resume.
In Mickelson and Hoffman, Stricker has opted for a pair of Tour veterans from San Diego who are known for their fondness for brash talk and for having a SoCal swagger in their steps. But the similarities pretty much end there. A five-time major winner, Ryder Cup stalwart and member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, Mickelson, 47, has competed in every Presidents Cup since 1994. Hoffman, 40, has never had the pleasure of any of that.
But he has strung together a solid career that includes four PGA Tour wins. While the last of those victories came nearly a year and a half ago, at the 2016 Valero Texas Open, Hoffman’s 2017 campaign has been quietly impressive. At the Masters, he entered the weekend with a share of the lead and went on to finish T-22. At the U.S. Open, Hoffman’s eighth-place finish was the best showing in a major of his career.
Mickelson, by contrast, has slogged through much of 2017, often looking lost and listless, especially after parting ways in June with his longtime caddie, Jim (Bones) Mackay. At last week’s Dell Technologies Championship, though, Mickelson played with renewed verve and focus, carding four rounds in the 60s en route to a T-6 finish. That encouraging performance, combined with Mickelson’s long resume and reputation as a locker room leader, proved to be the tipping point in a decision that Stricker was likely leaning toward anyway. (Surely also helping Mickelson’s cause: He’s a Liberty National member.)
Mickelson and Hoffman join a loaded U.S. lineup that includes the likes of Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler. The international team is headlined by world No. 3 Hideki Matsuyama and No. 9 Jason Day.
The United States hasn’t lost the Presidents Cup since 1998. Charley Hoffman has never played in the event. At least one of those things is about to change.
Here are the final rosters for each side:
Captain: Steve Stricker
Si Woo Kim
Captain: Nick Price