Phil Mickelson’s scathing criticism of United States Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson sparked a firestorm of reaction on Sunday with former European skippers Colin Montgomerie and Nick Faldo saying the American was out of line.
Former PGA Tour player Brandel Chamblee, who now works as a golf analyst for Golf Channel, went even further, describing Mickelson as a golfer who had “corrupted the experience of the Ryder Cup”.
Shortly after the U.S. had slipped to yet another Ryder Cup defeat by Europe on Sunday, Mickelson told a news conference his captain had not engaged with the players and should have stuck with the system that worked so successfully in 2008.
“Unfortunately, we have strayed from that for the last three Ryder Cups and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best.” - Mickelson
Both Montgomerie and Faldo responded by saying that Mickelson, a former world number two, should have kept his thoughts to himself.
“Should we go into this one hour after we’ve been defeated? The answer is a flat no,” Montgomerie, who captained Europe to Ryder Cup victory at Celtic Manor in 2010, said on Golf Channel.
“You support your captain under all circumstances. In public, you respect and honour your captain. - Ex-European captain Colin Montgomerie
“The PGA of America selected Tom Watson as the best choice to try to win the Ryder Cup back. Unfortunately, the team didn’t perform for Tom.”
Faldo, a losing Ryder Cup captain at Valhalla in 2008 when his American counterpart, Paul Azinger, achieved success with his “pod” system of four groups of three players who practised and played together, agreed.
“That should have been a private conversation. Phil certainly doesn’t respect Tom Watson. He threw his captain right under the bus.” Former European captain Nick Faldo
Montgomerie implied that the importance of the captain at a Ryder Cup was overrated.
“The Europeans happened to play better (at Gleneagles), it’s as simple as that,” said Montgomerie.
“I think Tom Watson did the best with (what) he had. It doesn’t matter who captains a team really. It’s up to the players to bring back those points.”
US Team Captain Tom Watson gives his remarks during the trophy presentation ceremony. Photo: AFP
Mickelson, who has now lost eight of his 10 Ryder Cups, was a frustrated figure during the US team’s news conference at Gleneagles while he praised the successful strategy adopted by Azinger in 2008.
“Paul Azinger got everybody invested in the process,” said Mickelson. “We use that same process in the President’s Cup and we do really well.
Chamblee immediately piled the criticism upon Mickelson.
“That was as close to a one-man mutiny as I ever seen,” Chamblee said on Golf Channel.
“I think that’s a moment that Phil would like to have back.
“If you are looking for a reason why the United States continues to lose, you just saw it, you saw it in one man – Phil Mickelson." - Former PGA Tour player and Golf Channel golf analyst Brandel Chamblee
“Phil Mickelson, along with the best players of that era, have so corrupted the experience of the Ryder Cup for their fellow competitors by not having records anywhere near what they should, given their rank in the game and what they’ve achieved,” said Chamblee
Mickelson, a five-time major champion, now has a win-loss-half record of 16-19-6 from his 10 Ryder Cups.
“Players of an era who are the best go to the Ryder Cup and show off, not goof off,” said Chamblee.
“Phil Mickelson in 2004 changed clubs at the Ryder Cup, the week of, and the day before he went to practise at another golf course.
US not a team
“This is yet another example of (Americans) not coming together as team.”
Montgomerie wondered why Mickelson had been the only player on the 12-man US team who did not travel on the chartered jet to Scotland last week.
“I have a big problem with that,” Montgomerie said. “The team should fly as a 12. We have to start out as we want to finish, as a team.” - Reuters