EDISON, N.J. -- Phil Mickelson throttled back his Presidents Cup lobbying just a tad on Friday.
Two days after he said that rookie Keegan Bradley should be the first player selected with one of the two captain's picks for the cup matches in Australia this fall, Mickelson said he couldn't find fault with Fred Couples' surprisingly early decision to name Tiger Woods to the team.
Couples, the U.S. captain, said Thursday that he has already told Woods he's on the 12-man team, though the two at-large picks were not formally due to be announced for another month.
Bradley won the PGA Championship two weeks ago and has two victories in his first PGA Tour season. Points are accrued over two seasons and Bradley stands 18th on the U.S. list. Only the top 10 are assured berths.
"I still feel the same way and nothing has changed," Mickelson said, reacting to Couples' selection of Woods. "I don't have a problem with Tiger being picked.
"But I think that Keegan has had a great year and has only been able to get points for this season, and not last season. I think he deserves it for his play already."
It looks increasingly like Bradley might need the at-large pick. He shot 74 in the second round and missed the cut at The Barclays on Friday, so he won't be moving up the U.S. points list this week for sure.
On Wednesday, Mickelson offered some impromptu support for the rookie, a frequent playing partner in practice rounds: "This is his first year. Meaning he was not allowed to make Presidents Cup points [in 2010] and he's had arguably the best year for any U.S. player. I think he needs to be a pick if he doesn't get on it on his own."
Later that day, Lefty said he believed Bradley deserved to be named as the first pick. Obviously, with Couples' highly contentious decision to pick Woods four weeks early, that didn't happen.
As for why Couples didn't use the coming month to vet all of the players in the at-large pool before making a decision, Mickelson didn't venture a guess.
"I think you could argue either way," he said of Couples' move, "but there are a lot of good things that come from Tiger being on the team."
Woods is No. 28 on the U.S. points list.
Rising American player Gary Woodland, considered an at-large candidate while enjoying a breakout season, stands at No. 25 in points and said he had no issues with Woods getting the nod, either. In fact, Thursday's news was hardly a surprise based on what Couples told prospective team members three months ago.
Apparently, Couples has been locked in on Woods for several weeks, his freefall down the world ranking notwithstanding.
"He told us that [Woods was a likely pick] when he met with us back at the Memorial," Woodland said of Couples' intentions. "I've played sports long enough to know that you have to makes these teams outright or you put your fate in the hands of other people."