Phil Mickelson settled for second place to Rory McIlroy on Sunday at the PGA Championship, but he did book himself a spot on this year’s US Ryder Cup team.
The 44-year-old lefthander fired a final-round 66 at Valhalla to finish on 15-under 269, falling by a stroke but producing his first top-10 finish since January in the final US Ryder Cup qualifying event.
“I feel like I’m closer to great play than what this year showed,” Mickelson said. “This is just a little glimpse of what I feel I can do and I’ll see if I can work on it some more.”
Mickelson, who began the week just outside the cutoff for making the team, achieved his goal of two decades of qualifying for the American squad on points, giving him a chance to help the US team reclaim the trophy from holders Europe in the match-play showdown next month at Gleneagles, Scotland.
The five-time major champion bumped injured 2013 PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner out of a qualified spot. Dufner withdrew from the event after 10 holes with a nagging neck injury that might have kept him from playing on the team anyway.
Zach Johnson settled for a share of 70th with long-time European Ryder Cup star Colin Montgomerie of Scotland at the PGA, but won just enough money to edge just ahead of Dufner for the last automatic points berth, booking his fourth Ryder Cup appearance.
Others who qualified, most having already sealed spots before this week, are Masters champion Bubba Watson, PGA third-place finisher and US and British Open runner-up Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk, Jimmy Walker, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed.
Injuries figure to be an issue for the American side with Kuchar withdrawing from the PGA due to back pain.
Tiger Woods, a potential captain’s choice pick for US leader Tom Watson, has been nagged by back spasms the past two weeks after a long layoff following back surgery.
“We’ll be fine and we’ll be ready,” said Reed, who will make his Ryder Cup debut.
Ryan Palmer shared fifth at the PGA and figures to be among the contenders for the three captain’s picks Watson will make to complete the roster on September 2.
European teams have won five of the past six Ryder Cups, the only US win since 1999 coming at Valhalla in 2008.
Europe’s qualifying has another three weeks to run, ending two days before European captain Paul McGinley makes his captain’s choices.
England’s Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Luke Donald remain on the outside of the lineup, set to be led by McIlroy.