Faldo slams Mickelson criticism of Watson

2014-09-29 13:34
Nick Faldo (File)

London - Nick Faldo has accused Phil Mickelson of "throwing the captain under the bus" with his outspoken criticism of United States skipper Tom Watson following the team's Ryder Cup defeat by Europe.

No sooner had the US been well-beaten by 16 1/2 points to 11 1/2 at Scotland's Gleneagles course on Sunday, then senior US team member Mickelson contrasted Watson's approach unfavourably with that of Paul Azinger, who was the last victorious American captain back in 2008.

But English golf great Faldo, the losing skipper in 2008, said Mickelson was wrong in being so openly critical of eight-times major winner Watson, at the age of 65the oldest captain in Ryder Cup history, immediately after this latest loss.

"For him to sit there and throw the captain under the bus, that was a tough one," Faldo told BBC Radio Five on Monday.

"At least my (European) lot waited a couple of years.

"That should have been a private conversation. There's obviously a bit of aggro (aggravation) in the American team room," added Faldo, a six-time major-winner.

Watson, responding to the ongoing fall-out, said Monday: "The issue between Phil and myself is basically a difference of opinion. So that's the controversy.

"The European team is very strong. When you (the Europeans) have four of the top five players in the world, you (the US) better be firing on all cylinders and we weren't."

America's last victory in the biennial contest against Europe was six years ago when Azinger guided the US team to a 16 1/2 to 11 1/2 win at Valhalla.

"Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups," Mickelson said Sunday at a press conference also featuring Watson.

The five-time major winner, controversially benched by Watson on Saturday's second day of three, cited Azinger's Pod system, allowing three groups of four players to bond together, as central to the Americans' victory in 2008.

But Watson said: "I had a different philosophy than Paul. It takes 12 players to win. It's not pods. It's 12 players."

Watson insisted he did not see Mickelson's comments as disloyal, saying: "He has a difference of opinion. That's OK. My management philosophy is different than his."

Meanwhile Azinger told Golfweek: "The responsibility, in the end, it's up to the player, but knowing your player, knowing how to communicate with your player, knowing what worked in the past and not ignoring what worked in the past, blatantly ignoring what works and what has worked... Gone are the days where we dominate this competition."

Azinger added: "Europe wants to win. That's why they have every captain pulling from all the other captains' advice and knowledge and having future captains as assistants for years leading up to these matches.

"They have a business model in place in their leadership role, because the captain does matter. He creates an environment."

That the US have now lost eight of the last 10 Ryder Cup is, in large part, down to American great Jack Nicklaus.

In 1977, Nicklaus -- golf's record 18-time major champion -- was so concerned by the US dominance of the Ryder Cup against a Great Britain and Ireland side that had lost nine of the previous 10 editions, he suggested the team be expanded to include players from continental Europe.

Nicklaus's move paved the way for the Spanish trio of Seve Ballesteros, Jose Maria Olazabal and Sergio Garcia, as well as the German pair of Bernhard Langer and, more recently, Martin Kaymer to become key Ryder Cup players.

Sunday saw Nicklaus's role in reviving the Ryder Cup acknowledged with an honorary lifetime membership of the European Tour.

Read more on:    ryder cup  |  nick faldo  |  phil mickelson  |  golf

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