The resounding loss by the USA to Europe, 16 ½ to 11 ½, at the 2014 Ryder Cup in Gleneagles, Scotland, proved for the third Ryder Cup in a row and the last eight out of ten Cup tournaments that Europe rules when it comes to team play.
As Breitbart Sports predicted two weeks ago, this year’s Euro victory comes as no surprise. Nevertheless, the story of Europe’s absolute domination this year was best told by Europe’s Ian Poulter in a post tournament interview. He capsulated the European mindset while describing that, although only eight of the twelve players can be on the course to play the Friday and Saturday matches, all Euro team members contribute. “This is about all twelve players at the same time playing every match. We don’t field eight players during the foursomes or four ball matches. All twelve are playing,” Poulter said.
Contrast that philosophy with American Veteran Jim Furyk who was asked after his career twentieth Ryder Cup loss–this time around to Sergio Garcia who finished with three birdies and an eagle in his last five holes–if he is aware of the other matches being played and how his teammates are faring. He responded, “That’s hard to do, so I’m pretty much concentrating on my game, like I would do in any regular tournament.”
Case closed. This ain’t any regular tournament, Jim.
Yet, despite the ugly loss by the Americans, unfortunately the feud that developed between their most storied player, Phil Mickelson, and their legendary captain, Tom Watson, proved to out-ugly even USA’s performance. In a post-tournament press conference, a steely eyed Phil threw Watson under the bus by suggesting that the USA, after losing three in a row, should go back to the Paul Azinger strategy.
Azinger successfully captained the USA to victory in 2010 at Valhalla, ending a Ryder Cup drought that had lasted since 1999. In a book that he co-authored in 2010, Cracking the Code: The Winning Ryder Cup Strategy, Make it Work for You, Azinger outlines an innovative formula for success, which Mickelson described as compartmentalizing the team into three-player units called pods. Mickelson explained that each pod has a leader and each pod develops a support group that plays off of each other and supports each other. From within the pods, any two players can be rotated into the foursome and four-ball pairings throughout the tournament.
Watson defended himself at the conference, saying, “I had a different philosophy being a captain of this team. You know, it takes 12 players to win. It’s not pods. It’s 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.” Watson sounded a conciliatory note about Phil’s remarks, adding that, “He has a difference of opinion. That’s okay.”
Perhaps the fact that coach Watson benched Mickelson for both the foursome and the four-ball matches may have had something to do with Phil’s outspoken criticism. According to SB Nation, golf commentator Tim Rosaforte reported that Mickelson pleaded with Watson to let him play on Saturday, sending a text at the last minute saying, “We can get this done.” Watson told him no.
Former PGA professional and Golf Channel broadcaster Brandel Chamblee expressed outrage with Mickelson using the world stage to take shots at his coach. “When I first started playing golf I heard it was a gentleman’s game, I’ve heard it my entire life and I think that is the refrain that lures us to this game, the civility for which it is played win or lose,” he lamented.
Chamblee blames Mickelson and others in his era for “corrupting the Ryder Cup” by not “showing off” their best game at the tournament, but “goofing off” instead. “That is as much as a one-man mutiny as I have ever seen. I think that is a moment Phil would like to have back… If you are looking for a reason why the US continues to lose you just saw it, you saw it in one man, Phil Mickelson.”