SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Should the U.S. go on to lose this Ryder Cup, Jim Furyk’s decision to put Phil Mickelson out in Friday’s foursomes session will be one of the most popular targets for second-guessing.
Mickelson didn’t come into the matches with much current form to speak of, and his erratic play off the tee ranked him 192nd on the PGA Tour this season in driving accuracy. But the 48-year-old still saw his number called this afternoon in the more demanding format, paired with rookie Bryson DeChambeau after the two sat out the morning fourball session.
That decision backfired in grand fashion, as Mickelson and DeChambeau dropped seven of the first nine holes en route to a 5-and-4 loss to Sergio Garcia and Alex Noren. With his team now facing a 5-3 deficit, Furyk defended the placement of Mickelson in a format that offers no margin for error.
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“He’s a very good iron player, so I felt comfortable. Bryson is a good ball-striker. I felt comfortable putting them out there,” Furyk said. “I have all the confidence in both of those players, and I have so much confidence in Phil in his ability to take a young player like Bryson and help him out. And also it’s Phil Mickelson, major champion. He’s got a lot of experience, and I put that confidence in him.”
That confidence did not extend to Saturday’s fourball session, as Furyk again benched both players for the morning wave. Mickelson’s all-time record in Ryder Cup foursomes now drops to 5-8-4 following a round that bottomed out when he teed off with an iron for position on the par-5 fifth hole but still found the water.
“We thought that this would be a good format for the tee shots, hitting a bunch of irons off the tees,” Mickelson said. “We just didn’t play our best. I don’t know what to say. They played phenomenal golf, and I’m not trying to take it away from them. We just weren’t at our best, either.”
Furyk hinted that he might change his foursomes gameplan after Friday’s shutout, but when it comes to the decision to put Mickelson under the spotlight he had no regrets.
“I’ll be honest, I’d do it again,” he said. “I have a lot of confidence in all 12.”