Veteran Mickelson questions Tom Watson’s captaincy after Ryder Cup defeat
Tom Watson’s loss to Europe in the Ryder Cup on Sunday has been openly criticised by one of his charges, veteran Callaway golfer Phil Mickelson, in a post-match news conference.
The US were taken apart by a rampant Europe side 16 ½ -11 ½, marking their eighth defeat in the last 10 Ryder Cups. And with Watson sitting nearby at the news conference, Mickelson heaped praise on former captain Paul Azinger, the last man to guide the US to victory in 2008.
Mickelson was making his 10th appearance at the Ryder Cup and was said to be unhappy at being left out by Watson on Saturday.
"There were two things that allowed us to play our best that Paul Azinger did," said five-time major winner Mickelson.
"First, he got everybody invested in the process. He got everybody invested in who they were going to play with, who the picks were going to be, who was going to be in their 'pod', when they would play, and they had a great leader for each pod. We hung out together.
"The other thing that Paul did really well was he had a great game-plan for us - how we were going to go about doing this, how we were going to go about playing together, if so-and-so is playing well, if so-and-so is not playing well.
"Those two things helped us bring out our best golf. We use that same process in the Presidents Cup [US versus the rest of the world] and we do really well.
"Unfortunately we have strayed from a winning formula for the last three Ryder Cups and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best."
When Mickelson was asked if his response was disloyal to Tom Watson, he said: "I'm sorry you're taking it that way. I'm just talking about what Paul Azinger did to help us play our best."
Mickelson also said that neither he nor anyone else in the team were consulted in any of the decision-making.
However Nike Faldo, who lost to Paul Azinger’s team in 2008 while captaining Europe, criticised Mickelson on the Golf Channel. "That should have been a private conversation," he said. "Phil certainly doesn't respect Tom Watson."
And Mickelson also came under fire from Colin Montgomerie, who said: "Should we go into this one hour after we've been defeated? The answer is a flat no.
"You support your captain under all circumstances. In public, you respect and honour your captain."
Tom Watson has made no excuses for his team’s defeat, even admitting errors of judgement were made over the three days – including not playing in-form rookies Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed in Friday afternoon’s round.
"He has a difference of opinion. That's OK. My management philosophy is different than his," Watson said of Mickelson’s comments.
Watson said he had not read Azinger’s book on Ryder Cup strategy and believed his own philosophies would work. "I didn't discount it. I just had a different philosophy right off the bat," he said.
"My two jobs are to make the captain's picks and then put the team together. The bottom line is the Europeans kicked our butts. They were better players this week."
Meanwhile, Jim Furyk, who played some entertaining golf for the US this past weekend, refused to involve himself in the row. He also said that he hadn’t analysed why they could not get a foothold on the game.
"I've known Phil my entire life and I have a lot of respect for our captain. I know he put his heart and soul into it for two years," Furyk said.
"We all came here to try to win a Ryder Cup together. We've fallen short quite a bit. If I could put my finger on it, I would have changed things a long time ago, but we are going to keep searching."