By DOUG FERGUSON
AP Golf Writer
ATLANTA (AP) — Phil Mickelson is returning for his 13th consecutive Ryder Cup, this time without his clubs.
Mickelson fills out the roster of five assistant captains to Steve Stricker for the American team that tries to win the cup back from Europe at Whistling Straits on Sept. 24-26.
Fred Couples also was announced as an assistant Wednesday, joining Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson and Davis Love III.
“I’ve been staying in close contact with both Freddie and Phil, talking about all things Ryder Cup, for a while now,” Stricker said. “They provide honest and impactful feedback, and both have such a passion for the Ryder Cup. I’m honored that they were willing to join our team and help put us in the best position to win in a few weeks at Whistling Straits.”
Mickelson said on Twitter he was “humbled and honored” and hopes to help in any way.
He had played in every Ryder Cup since going 3-0 at Oak Hill in 1995 — the year before Tiger Woods turned pro — and holds the record for most appearances by either team. In his 12 appearances as a player, the Americans won three times.
The six-time major champion was a big part of the Ryder Cup task force that was formed after the 2014 loss at Gleneagles, where Mickelson in the closing news conference questioned the PGA of America and the captain, Tom Watson, for getting away from a model that worked.
From that task force, players had more say in choosing captains, and the plan going forward was to serve as an assistant before becoming captain. Also, the departing captain would be one of the assistants at the next Ryder Cup to build continuity.
Wednesday’s announcements mean Woods won’t be at Whistling Straits as an assistant — that seemed unlikely given his injuries from the February car crash — because teams are limited to five assistant captains.
Couples was announced inadvertently Sunday by Patrick Cantlay, who clinched the sixth and final automatic spot on the U.S. team by winning the BMW Championship.
“Fred Couples texted me this week and said it looks like he’s going to be one of the assistant captains, and so he’ll be up there,” Cantlay said.
It will be the second time Couples is an assistant captain at the Ryder Cup. He also served under Love at Medinah in 2012, and he was among the most popular U.S. captains for the Presidents Cup. He led three straight matches, all victories.
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