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Mickelson leads U.S. for 23rd-straight time

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JERSEY CITY, N.J.—Phil Mickelson is the voice of experience in team competition, and there's no comparison.

He was on the putting green yesterday morning at the Presidents Cup, explaining to some of the six rookies on the U.S. team why the teams might change for the final day of practice, the schedule after the team photo, just about anything short of how to tie their shoes.

Mickelson has played in the Presidents Cup every year since it began in 1994. He has played in every Ryder Cup since 1995.

Add them up and this will be his 23rd-consecutive time playing in a team event.

For someone like PGA champion Justin Thomas, playing in his first one, that can be hard to fathom.

“I can't, especially because I was one when he playing in his first one, which is really crazy to think,” Thomas said.

“I would love to see what kind of person he was then," he noted. ”I'm sure he was still the same kind of guy.

“But it's crazy. To be that good for that long and to have the reputation that he does, being that much of a leader, a role model in the team rooms . . . I don't know if it will ever be topped.”

Playing on so many Presidents Cup teams mainly has been a happy occasion. The Americans have lost only one of them, in 1998 at Royal Melbourne, and tied the International team in 2003 in South Africa.

The International team, with Nick Price as captain for a third-straight time, gets another chance to end a losing streak that is getting out of hand.

“We've got a lot of power," said Price. "I've always said this—18-hole match play is anybody's game.”

It's been in the American game in this format, and Mickelson always figures into the equation.

That ultimately might be one of his greatest legacies when the Presidents Cup began today and Mickelson headed to the first tee with Kevin Kisner in a foursomes match against Jason Day and Marc Leishman.

It will his 52nd match in the Presidents Cup, and 97th match overall in either cup.

His 42 victories on the PGA Tour put him at No. 9 on the career list, three behind Walter Hagen. He has five majors, including three legs of the career Grand Slam.

He has earned just over $83 million, second only to Tiger Woods. He already is in the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Most unusual about his career is what he hasn't done.

Mickelson has never been No. 1 in the world. He was never won the PGA Tour money title.

He has never been voted the PGA Tour player of the year.

But when it comes to teams (23 in his case). he has a record that might not be topped for a long time, if ever.

“I think that it will be done," Mickelson said. ”But it'll be done, I believe, because there's so many talented players that I believe will have the longevity.

“But right now, it's something that I'm really proud of.”

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