Captains Steve Stricker and Nick Price finalized their respective Presidents Cup teams Wednesday, with little surprise.
On the U.S. side, Stricker chose 40-somethings Phil Mickelson and Charley Hoffman to round out his 12-man roster. Price, meanwhile, picked Emiliano Grillo and Anirban Lahiri as the Internationals try to beat the Americans for the first time since 1998.
The event will be held Sept. 28-Oct. 1 at Liberty National in Jersey City, N.J.
It was widely expected that Stricker would go this direction with his wildcard selections.
One of the most respected voices in the team room, Mickelson has now played on an unprecedented 23 consecutive teams. Though his form this summer has been shaky, he tied for sixth last week at the Dell Technologies Championship, his best finish on the PGA Tour in six months. Mickelson, 47, also required a captain’s pick in 2015, but he rewarded Jay Haas’ faith with a 3-0-1 showing in South Korea.
“Phil brings a wealth of experience to the team. He means a lot to us as a team,” Stricker said. “He’ll be ready. He’s shown that over the years. He seems to raise his game to another level for these team competitions.”
Team records: Full U.S. Ryder Cup roster
Team records: Full International Ryder Cup roster
Hoffman entered last week at No. 10 in the Presidents Cup standings, but Kevin Chappell edged him out for the final automatic spot by less than a point. Hoffman, 40, will be making his first appearance on any U.S. team. He has done just about everything this year except win – contending in a major, posting four top-3 finishes and rising to a career-best 22nd in the world ranking.
“Charley gets along with all these players, players a lot of practice rounds with them, and he’s an easy guy to be around and he’s got a lot of talent,” Stricker said. “His age is going to help us, having a lot of Tour experience under his belt. It’s just another calming influence in our team room.”
Among the players passed over by Stricker: Brian Harman, who won the Wells Fargo and contended at the U.S. Open; long-hitting Gary Woodland; and Jason Dufner, who has played in two team competitions.
Price’s decision wasn’t quite as straightforward, if only because those outside the top 10 in points have done little of late to impress.
Grillo moved into the 11th spot after a pair of top-30s in the playoffs, but overall it’s been a disappointing year for the young Argentine. After ending last year at No. 25 in the world, he has skidded to 54th, and he doesn’t have a top-10 worldwide since March.
Still, Price said: “This guy was someone who was on our radar for the last year and this year.”
By choosing Lahiri, who was 16th in the standings, Price opted for experience over another first-timer. The 30-year-old from India was part of the 2015 International squad that suffered a one-point loss in South Korea. Lahiri, however, went 0-3 that week – he was the only player on either side who failed to record at least a half point – and he doesn’t have a top-25 in his past seven starts.
“He brings a lot to the team room,” Price said. “He’s got a very positive personality. There were many reasons, but the big reason for us is he plays full time on the U.S. tour.”
Other players who received consideration (and finished higher on the points list than Lahiri) were Yuta Ikeda, Ben An, Haotong Li and Hideto Tanihara, who defeated Jordan Spieth, Ryan Moore and Paul Casey en route to the semifinals of the WGC-Match Play.
Though the Americans narrowly captured the 2015 Presidents Cup to push their record in the event to 9-1-1, they’ve won the last four home matches by at least three points.