For now, Phil wants to play his way to Hazeltine

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ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Tiger Woods will be at Hazeltine National next fall for the Ryder Cup one way or another. The same can’t be said of Phil Mickelson, at least not yet.

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III named Woods, Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker vice captains for next year’s matches on Wednesday, but Mickelson’s name was conspicuous by its absence.

Mickelson – along with Love, Woods, Furyk and Stricker – was a member of the 11-man task force that was formed after the U.S. loss in 2014 at Gleneagles, and he has been a vocal supporter of the new Ryder Cup process.

Love said he left Mickelson off his list of vice captains - which includes Tom Lehman who was named an assistant earlier this year - based on conversations he had with Lefty.

“He walked off 18 green [at last month’s Presidents Cup] saying, ‘I'm ready for the Ryder Cup,’” Love said. “He's focused on playing. Obviously he's making some changes in the way he works on his golf game recently. He's excited about next year. He said, ‘Look, I'll help you in any way I can, but I'm going to focus on making the team.’”

Under the agreement with European captain Darren Clarke, Love can have up to five vice captains. Love said on Wednesday that if Mickelson doesn’t make next year’s team, either through automatic qualifying or as a captain’s pick, he would be on the short list to fill out that final spot as a vice captain, along with Fred Couples.