Jay Haas did the right thing in picking his son, Bill Haas, and Phil Mickelson to complete his United States team for the Presidents Cup matches next month.
Not everyone will agree, especially those who believed Brooks Koepka deserved a spot on the team, but that’s the nature of allowing a captain to fill out his roster.
If there’s an argument to be made, it’s not that Haas put his son on the team but that he added Mickelson, who has played in every Presidents Cup, which means he was a member of the American team back when the matches were competitive.
Bill Haas deserved to be on the team because he was 11th in points in a race that had 10 automatic qualifiers. If J.B. Holmes or Billy Horschel or Koepka had been 11th, they’d have been virtually automatic picks and Haas deserved the same treatment.
It was no surprise that International captain Nick Price picked No. 11 Steven Bowditch or South Korean Sang-Moon Bae for the matches in his homeland.
Haas didn’t deserve to be left off because his father was the captain, and whether Jay Haas decided that on his own or was convinced by assistants Fred Couples, Davis Love III and Steve Stricker, he made the right call.
As for Mickelson, teams are about more than filling roster spots based on statistics. Other players had stronger cases based on their play the past few months but the other players aren’t Mickelson.
Picking Mickelson isn’t a cautious pick. It’s a good pick because Mickelson will be the emotional leader of the team. Jordan Spieth is the best player on the U.S. team (don’t worry about the recent missed cuts) but Mickelson brings the force of his personality.
Maybe it backfires. Maybe Mickelson plays lousy golf and the Internationals finally win but no other player outside the top 10 had made a definitive case that he belonged. Robert Streb was solid but not spectacular. Holmes was good but not great. Koepka made a strong case for himself with seven top-18 finishes in a row before consecutive missed cuts in the playoffs.
Mickelson, it’s well known, loves pressure. Good thing because now there’s the pressure of showing Jay Haas made the right call.