Frustrations simmer in the American camp
The PGA of America turned to the last captain to win the Ryder Cup for the U.S. on foreign soil, 65-year old legend Tom Watson, hoping he could repeat the magic from 1993.
And, he’d have been dubbed a genius for his leadership and man management had they succeeded but the powerful Europeans, who were the clear favourites from well before a ball was struck, cleared away to win their 8th Cup in the past 10 attempts in another sea of emotion in Gleneagles, Scotland.
Phil Mickelson (Credit: www.golffile.ie)
The Americans looked at their feet and kicked stones in contemplation and the cracks in their psyche were clear at a tension-packed press conference, where ‘awkward’ and ‘embarrassing’ fail to do justice to what transpired.
Phil Mickelson, the team’s most experienced player sitting just metres from his captain, felt compelled to detail the difference in styles of the last winning captain (Paul Azinger in 2008) and by inference, provided a seemingly damning criticism of Watson’s performance this week.
“There were two things that allow us to play our best I think that Paul Azinger did; and one was he got everybody invested in the process.” Mickelson said.
“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, who — when they would play, and they had a great leader for each pod.”
“And the other thing that Paul did really well was he had a great game plan for us, you know, how we were going to go about doing this.”
“How we were going to go about playing together; golf ball, format, what we were going to do, if so-and-so is playing well, if so-and-so is not playing well, we had a real game plan.”
“I’m just looking back at what gave us the most success because we use that same process in The Presidents Cup and we do really well.
Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best.”
When asked to respond to Mickelson’s frank assessment, Watson responded.
“I had a different philosophy as far as being a captain of this team. You know, it takes 12 players to win. It’s not pods. It is 12 players.”
“And I felt — I based my decisions on — yes, I did talk to the players, but my vice captains were very instrumental in making decisions as to whom to pair with. I had a different philosophy than Paul.”
It was a staggering airing of dirty laundry from two men who clearly have completely divergent views on how best to achieve a common goal.
However, perhaps Mickelson’s forthright views and the soul searching that is bound to ensue on their side of the Atlantic in the months ahead may be viewed in time as a turning point in the revival of American Ryder Cup golf?
The ramifications from the 40th Ryder Cup will be far reaching indeed.