Mickelson attacks captain Watson following Ryder Cup thrashing

Paul Azinger is lauded by Mickelson as Watson sits metres away in press conference

Charlie Lemay's picture
Mon, 29 Sep 2014

PHIL MICKELSON attacked Tom Watson in the post-Ryder Cup press conference yesterday saying the Americans needed to revert to the philosophy of Paul Azinger, the last captain to lead the United States to victory in the biennial competition in 2008.

Europe won the Ryder Cup for the third time in a row at with an emphatic scoreline of 16.5-11.5 at Gleneagles. Jamie Donaldson's wedge shot on the 15th hole, which the Welshman said was the best of his life, brought the event to a close as he beat Keegan Bradley 4&3.

Mickelson, the most decorated and experienced player in the American ranks, was clearly upset after not being picked by the American captain to compete in Saturday’s fourballs or foursomes and salt was added to the wound when Watson said he had sent out the players who he thought were best equipped to win their games.

"There were two things that allowed us to play our best that Paul Azinger did," said Mickelson, who won two points from three matches.

"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."

Watson, who sat yards from Mickelson when the five-time major winner delivered his verdict, said: "He has a difference of opinion. That's OK. My management philosophy is different than his."

"I didn't discount it. I just had a different philosophy right off the bat," Watson added.

"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."

When asked whether his comments were disloyal to Watson, Mickelson 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."

The left-handed player also revealed the players were not involved in any of the decision making at Gleneagles and Nick Faldo, who was European captain when Azinger triumphed, strongly condemned the comments.

"That should have been a private conversation," Faldo said. "Phil certainly doesn't respect Tom Watson."

Colin Montgomerie added: "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."