After the U.S. lost the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles two years ago, Phil Mickelson hammered team captain Tom Watson. At least he was in the moment.
Wednesday at Hazeltine National, Mickelson criticized Hal Sutton from the 2004 U.S. loss at Oakland Hills. Phil's statute of limitations has few limits.
Asked how much difference a captain makes, Mickelson said, ``Unbelievable.''
Here's the rest of his answer:
``It all starts with the captain. I mean, that's the guy that has to bring together 12 strong individuals and bring out their best and allow them on a platform to play their best. That's the whole foundation of this team. You're saying - and I understand and I hear - well, guys just need to play better or they just need to putt better. Absolutely. You do.
``But you play how you prepare. And in major championships, when we win or play well in majors, it's because we prepared properly for those events,. And that allowed us to bring out our best golf. And in a Ryder Cup, you have to prepare properly for the event.
``Now, I see these looks, like `What are you talking about?' Let me give you an example, if I may. Twelve years ago, okay, in 2004, Tiger and I were paired together and we ended up not playing well. Was that the problem? I mean, maybe. But 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 that he and Woods played different types of ball and that Mickelson had to waste valuable practice time on the course getting used to Woods' preferred golf ball.
``Had we known a month in advance, we might have been able to make it work,'' Mickelson said. ``I think we probably would have made it work. But we didn't know until two days prior. Now I loved, I'm not trying to throw, or knock anybody here, because I actually loved how decisive Captain Sutton was...But that's an example of starting with the captain, that put us in a position to fail and we failed monumentally.
``To say, well, you just need to play better - that is so misinformed because you will play how you prepare.''
Good thing Phil has gotten over it.
Special Ryder Cup edition of the Minnesota Sports Podcast Network - 6-7 tonight at the Jaguar/Land Rover dealership in Golden Valley, Jim Lehman and I will talk Ryder Cup, Tom Lehman, Minnesota golf and local sports. The event runs 5:30-7:30 and we'll take live questions. Please stop by.