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Bethpage Black crowd showers Phil Mickelson with love at PGA Championship

Phil Mickelson with fans on the autograph line

Phil Mickelson with fans on the autograph line after he finished his round at Bethpage Black on Sunday. Credit: Newsday / Jeff Williams

“Hey Phil, you’re the people’s champ, baby. Love you, baby!”

“Hey Phil, take a picture with me. It will make my day!”

“Hey Phil, you’re the best. See you here in 2024!”

Phil Mickelson completed another home game at Bethpage Black on Sunday, finishing far down the leaderboard in the PGA Championship.

But the Californian is still is at the top of the heap with New Yorkers, who adopted him when he finished second in the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Opens on the Black.

“It’s awesome here, I love it,” Mickelson said after his final round 76. “They have so much energy, they’re fun and entertaining. I can’t think of a better place to hold a major.”

The next chance Mickelson will have at Bethpage Black is in the Barclays in 2021. But what he’s really thinking about is the Ryder Cup on the Black in 2024. His parting thought from the 2009 Open was what a great venue the Black would be for the Ryder Cup, and the PGA made his wish came true.

“I’m always excited to come back in a few years and be a part of the Ryder Cup in 2024 because this place is the best host site I could ever possibly think of because these people here will give us a great home course advantage,” he said.

The prevailing school of thought is if Mickelson can’t make the Ryder Cup team (he will be 53 years old then) that the PGA would tap him as the captain.

“I haven’t looked that far down the road, I just know the crowds here are wonderful and I’m excited that the PGA of America made that decision and the people here at Bethpage will be part of this,” said Mickelson. “If you look at how it is here for the PGA Championship, I can only imagine how it will be for the Ryder Cup.”  

His playing partner on Sunday was Paul Casey, the Englishman who is a fellow Arizona State alum and a European Ryder Cupper.

“The crowd was amazing,” said Casey. “He gets nothing but positive reception around here, and I got a lot of that off the back of him, which was great. In 2024, I will get none of that.”

Mickelson has spoken of how the 16th green and 17th hole would be the epicenter of fan involvement in the Ryder Cup and Casey concurred. “You know, 17 tee was quite raucous, and we're off five, six hours before the leaders are going to go off and it's raucous,” said Casey. “I can't imagine what a Ryder Cup will be like around here. I think it would be intimidating, no doubt. I think I said in an interview earlier this week, it's like a 13th man for the U.S. team, big advantage.”

As for the PGA this year, the praise for the Black continues to pour out of Mickelson.

“I thought this tournament was really well done,” said Mickelson. “The course setup was a way that identified the best players and the guys who struggled and hit some poor shots like myself, it thoroughly punished me but it also rewarded the guys who were hitting great shots. The guys who were playing the best were really able to separate themselves.”

Mickelson spent a good half hour on the autograph line on Sunday as the fans continually shouted his name.

“It’s been an honor for me to play in front of them during my career,” said Mickelson. “I’m very appreciative of the memories and how they’ve made me feel.”

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