Mickelson blames Hal Sutton for 2004 Ryder Cup loss


Phil Mickelson is making news again this year at the Ryder Cup and the first tee shot has yet to be hit.

In 2014 Mickelson openly criticized Captain Tom Watson (without calling him by name) for the US loss saying, “We were not included on any decisions whatsoever.”  It was during the final post Ryder Cup press conference with the entire team and Watson sitting in front of the media and aired on TV.

Sunday after the Tour Championship Mickelson again blamed the PGA Tour for not making the championship competitive due to the setup of the course.

A few years ago he criticized Quail Hollow CC, site of the Wells Fargo Championship, considered to be one of the best courses the tour plays all year. He didn’t like the layout of the finishing holes, and he got his wish. The club changed several holes and the greens before the next year’s event.

Phil calls it constructive discussions. Others are calling it nothing but whining.

Wednesday when asked if a Captain makes a difference in the Ryder Cup results he gave a resounding Yes.  We all expected an example of a great Captain who make great decisions in at least one of Phil’s Ryder Cup teams. Instead we got typical Mickelson who took several minutes to place blame on 2004 Captain Hal Sutton for a match Mickelson and Woods lost 12 years earlier.

Here is a word for word transcript of what Mickelson said:

“Twelve years ago, okay, in 2004, Tiger and I were paired together and we ended up not playing well. And was that really the — 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.

He found out the year before when we played at The Presidents Cup in 2003 that the golf ball I was playing was not going to work for him. He plays a very high-spin ball and I play a very low-spin ball, and we had to come up in two days with a solution.

So I grabbed a couple dozen of his balls, I went off to the side, and tried to learn his golf ball in a four- or five-hour session on kind of an isolated — one of the other holes out there trying to find out how far the ball goes. And it forced me to stop my preparation for the tournament, to stop chipping and stop putting and stop sharpening my game and stop learning the golf course, in an effort to crash-course and learn a whole different golf ball that we were going to be playing.

And 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.

Instead, I’m taking four or five hours and I’m out trying to learn another ball to allow us to play our best. Had we known a month in advance, we might have been able to make it work. 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 — to knock anybody here, because 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.

But that’s an example of starting with the captain, that put us in a position to fail and we failed monumentally, absolutely. But to say, well, you just need to play better; that is so misinformed because you will play how you prepare.”.Phil Mickelson

The duo dropped both matches on Day 1 and the misguided pairing has largely defined Phil and Tiger’s relationship in the Ryder Cup, at least until this week.

If that is “constructive” then I hate to see when he is really critical.

Sutton who was playing with former Ryder Cup Captains at a course nearby to Hazeltine was found after his round by a reporter from GolfWeek who videoed Sutton’s response.

Sutton was very reluctant at first to even comment, but the more he heard of what Phil had said, you could see his face turning red.

Sutton went on to tell the whole story, not on this video of what really happened,

“Phil showed up with new clubs and a new ball so Phil caused his own problems, but if he wants to blame it on me, like everything else, fine.

It was widely reported that Mickelson signed a 30 million dollar deal with Callaway midseason.  Highly ranked players seldom change clubs in the middle of the season, let alone before a Ryder Cup.

Hall Sutton is a straight shooter. Despite taking the blame for the players as a good Captain or Coach does, Mickelson clearly is to blame for his poor play, not Sutton.

The situation bothered Sutton so much he quit golf for over five years saying it was traumatic to him when it happened and he walked away from the game.

To now have Mickelson bring it up 12 years later, in this writers opinion points to serious issues with Mickelsons ability to accept responsibility for his own play.

As Sutton said, when all is said and done the players play, and they have to win.

This won’t go away this week and will create more pressure on Mickelson, who was sat down by Watson in 2014 for one match, which ended in a pouting session for Mickelson, and there by contributed some to the US loss.

Mickelson has an opportunity to be an Ambassador in the footsteps of Arnold and Jack, but he is headed in the opposite direction. Signing autographs for kids is great, but it does not excuse his immature  behavior of a sore loser.

At the age of 46, despite being in the Hall of Fame,he needs to “own it”, good or bad and quit placing the blame on everyone but Phil.

It is easy to be gracious in victory, but a real man is judged in how he handles defeat.

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