Phil Mickelson was very critical of former Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton during his Ryder Cup press conference on Wednesday. It’s no secret that Phil has had issues with captains in the past–hello Tom Watson. This time around it was Sutton.
Mickelson was using an example of how he feels a captain should prepare his team for the Ryder Cup and said, “We were told two days before that we were playing together and that gave us no time to work together and prepare.”
Mickelson went on to say, “In the history of my career, I have never ball-tested two days prior to a major. I’ve never done it. It doesn’t allow me to play my best. What allows me to play my best is to learn the course, sharpen my touch on the greens, sharpen my chipping out of the rough and ball striking and so forth. That’s an example, starting with the captain, that put us in a position to fail and we failed monumentally, absolutely.”
Harsh words coming from one of golf’s best players who hasn’t performed so well in Ryder Cups over the years. Mickelson did compliment Sutton on his decisiveness.
“I actually loved how decisive Captain Sutton was. I feel like that’s a sign of great leadership to be decisive. Had we had time to prepare, I think we would have made it work and could have had some success.”
Sutton took exception to Lefty’s comments and came back at him with this, “The thing the Ryder Cup doesn’t need is drama. It creates enough drama on its own. Phil created a lot of drama that week, if we remember, because he switched his clubs and his ball prior to that week. It was very self-serving for him to do that prior to the Ryder Cup in 2004. So, if he needs me to shoulder the blame for his poor play, I can do that.”
Sutton continued, “There’s a lot of controversy that follows Phil everywhere, I’ll leave it at that. He wasn’t prepared with the ball that he brought to the tournament, much less Tiger’s. So, I think he needs to search his own soul a little bit.”
Sutton is right in that Mickelson has created drama in the past and it appears he’s doing it again this year, but Mickelson offered an apology to Sutton later. According to Golf Channel’s Tim Rosaforte, Mickelson said his comments were “in bad taste” and “came across like it was a personal attack and I didn’t mean it that way.”
Mickelson and Woods have long since been the target of many when criticizing team chemistry over their time as members of the Ryder Cup teams. The two have been difficult for captains to pair with other players over the years because they generally go out and play their own game even though they are playing a team event. Of course in some of those instances they have been the better players and their partners didn’t play as well and the two lost their matches because of that; other times they haven’t played well and it carried over to the rest of the team.
Branded Chamblee, Golf Channel’s talking head and all-knowing Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson genius, went after Phil again on Wednesday night on Live from the Ryder Cup.
After ripping Woods and Phil a few days ago and even inferring that David Duval, who has won a major championship and played as a partner of Woods during a Ryder Cup was wrong with his opinion of Woods, Chamblee couldn’t help but continue to rip one of his favorite targets.
Chamblee once again questioned Phil’s leadership role within the team and even brought up his off the course insider trading issues as an example of the type of person he is. Chamblee claimed that he, “might have brought it up last night but he can’t remember.”
A quick scroll through his Twitter account shows that he definitely remembers and knows exactly what he said about Mickelson and Woods.
Chamblee claimed that Mickelson has, “thrown every single captain he’s had for the last 20 years under the bus. His idea of a good captain is someone who lets him have his way at every single turn.”
That might be the case, but do we not want our athletes to be honest with their opinions? Mickelson was asked a question and answered it honestly. He acknowledged that the team failed. He acknowledged the faults, but of course that isn’t enough to please some and admitting faults and disagreeing with how things have been done by captains in the past has now become a major point of criticism in regards to both Mickelson and Woods.
David Duval once again was the voice of reason, “I’m no stranger to Ryder Cup controversy myself,” Duval continued. “Phil Mickelson goes into these settings, and there’s a reason he’s doing it, it wasn’t just off the cuff. I’m not going to pretend I feel like I know what those reasons are; I don’t have that arrogance to say that. It was done for a reason and it might be entirely about moving forward with what has newly been shaped in the Ryder Cup committee.”
Frank Nobilo even went so far as to suggest that now all of the focus is on Phil and maybe that’s his goal. Maybe now the 11 other players can just go out and focus on playing great golf.
Sure Mickelson has caused drama and sure he hasn’t played his best at times, but this is a new year and Mickelson and Woods are both older, wiser, and appear to have learned from their past mistakes while on the course during the Ryder Cup.
Dustin Johnson mentioned the leadership that not only Phil and Tiger bring, but also Vice captain Steve Stricker and Captain Davis Love, “We’ve got a lot of leadership on this team with Phil, and Tiger, and Strick, and Davis, we’ve got a lot of leadership there. With those guys I don’t really have to do to much.”
Woods won’t be playing, but he does bring a lot of experience, both good and bad, with him and that could be used to the U.S. team’s advantage and the same goes for Phil.
Both Woods and Mickelson are looked up to by everyone on the team. They’re considered two of the greatest golfers to play the game and the knowledge they bring can be a huge asset to the team. Will it work out this year? We’ll find out on Friday, but it definitely feels different and I’m not sure continuously bringing up the past is helping the two move forward before they take to the course to face the Europeans on Friday.