Mickelson slams Watson's captaincy strategy

Sun Sep 28, 2014 3:17pm EDT
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By Mitch Phillips

GLENEAGLES Scotland (Reuters) - Phil Mickelson launched a scathing attack on Tom Watson after the United States went down to another Ryder Cup defeat on Sunday, saying his captain had not engaged with the players and should have stuck with the system that worked in 2008.

That victory under Paul Azinger was one of only two in the last 10 editions and those involved were particularly happy with his "pod" system, whereby players were split into groups of three or four who practiced and played together.

Subsequent captains Corey Pavin, Davis Love and Watson dispensed with it, leaving Mickelson, who has now lost eight of his 10 Ryder Cups, a frustrated figure.

"Paul Azinger 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, who -- when they would play, and they had a great leader for each pod," Mickelson said after finishing his weekend with a singles victory over Stephen Gallacher.

"The other thing that Paul did really well was he had a great game plan for us, 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.

"We use that same process in the President's Cup and we do really well. 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."

It was highly unusual to hear a Ryder Cup player openly criticize his captain's approach, especially so soon after the match, and though Mickelson attempted to say it was not an attack on Watson, he was not about to row back.

Asked to elaborate about the involvement of players with the captain, Mickelson added: "No. Nobody here was in any decision."   Continued...

U.S. Ryder Cup player Phil Mickelson (L) stands with captain Tom Watson on the sixth tee during his fourballs 40th Ryder Cup match at Gleneagles in Scotland September 26, 2014. REUTERS/Phil Noble