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Mickelson vs Watson: Was Phil Right to Be Critical of Watson at the Press Conference?


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  1. 1. Did Phil do the right thing by speaking his mind at the Ryder Cup press conference?

    • Yes, Watson sucked as captain, it was the best way to get his opinion heard
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    • No, it was passive aggressive and he threw Watson under the bus
      66


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I think the implied criticism of Davis Love and Corey Pavin has escaped analysis in all this. So too might the role of Keegan Bradley, someone who only owes his place to Watson. If Mickelson has been running around on the Friday night though agitating then it was only going to end in tears. I also wonder where Steve Stricker was in all this? Wasn't he supposed to be the link?

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I think it strengthened Phil's position to be a future captain.  By Phil speaking out, he demonstrated he was passionate about winning and was mindful of different strategies that would allow the US t

I'm confused on something, isn't it BETTER that Phil said it in front of Watson? People keep making the comment that saying it while Watson was right there makes it worse? It's like those of you sayin

You don't effect change by talking behind the scenes.  Sometimes dirty laundry needs to be aired out in a public forum in order to get it noticed.  I don't think that anyone can argue against somethin

After reading other posts, accepting and implementing input from the players would have been a huge improvement. Micro-manage is one thing but to rule with an iron fist? Tom Watson is a great player, maybe not the best at captain.

I agree with @iacas on this one.

There is no right or wrong time. People are going to try to find fault just because they want to. It's how the internet and media is now. It is all opinionated and fault driven. I find no fault in what Phil said.

To me if no one stepped out and supported Tom against what Phil said, that speaks volumes to how everyone else on the team thought of how Tom handled being a captain.

If someone with Phil's credentials as a golfer, his experience as a Ryder Cup player, steps forward and is candid in how the US team was managed. I am glad someone finally stepped forward.

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I miss the days when men were allowed to be men and say what they thought.-Now we just want pussies who keep quiet and bow to the captain simply because he was picked by some guys in suits to be the captain because he could help generate interest and thus make those same guys in suits some more money.

I forgot to mention this on my post. I agree. It seems everyone is out to protect old grandpa Watson. Almost infantilizing (this is a word; TST's spell check is out of date) him. He's a grown a$$ man; he can take criticism.

Again, tired of losing. I have to buy this Brit from work lunch now thanks to TOM AND HIS PLAYERS!! LOL

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Did Phil Mickelson really earn his points on the team, earlier on friday and saturday?

Cause I'm gettin a feeling that he kinda, has himself to blame too. I mean, more was expected of the "veteran golfers".

Phil was 2-1, one of the few guys with a winning record.

It seems like he (and other players) were frustrated with Watson even before the matches began, so you could say he did the "veteran" thing and took a leadership role when he voiced his opinions at the press conference. Can't blame Phil for this one.

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I forgot to mention this on my post. I agree. It seems everyone is out to protect old grandpa Watson. Almost infantilizing (this is a word; TST's spell check is out of date) him. He's a grown a$$ man; he can take criticism. Again, tired of losing. I have to buy this Brit from work lunch now thanks to TOM AND HIS PLAYERS!! LOL

My guess is a lot of these guys just don't like Phil and have no knowledge of Watson the player or person. If you want to talk about speaking out of turn or throwing someone under the bus, how about poor little grandpa Watson accusing golfing Legend Gary Player of cheating in a ceremonial, made for TV, Skins Game? Talk about hurting someone, Gary still carries the wounds from that one.

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Was I the only one who caught Morning Drive this morning. Tim Rosaforte's comments after he had a telephone conversation with PGA President Ted Bishop during a break on the show?

Ted Bishop told Rosaforte that he and Phil had a conversation at the Scottish Open Pro-Am where Mickleson told Bishop that they were getting no communication from Tom Watson, Bishop suggested Mickleson reach out to Watson, which he said he had done and was not getting any communication.

I also read on twitter that it is being suggested that Watson sat Phil and Keegan because he overheard them complaining about his leadership. I also read Keegan and Mickleson learned of being sat in a text message...Really? If that's true that is NO WAY to lead.

Rosaforte went on to say that Phil was basically the team spokesman and more comments from other players would eventually start to come out. It seems as though this has been building for quite some time....

I have to say I was on the fence and kinda 50/50 but a dictatorship type of leadership just doesn't work anymore.

Interesting points, thanks for bringing them up.

Phil is VERY experienced at dealing with the media and from my observation throughout the years, an expert at knowing what to say and knowing how to manipulate his way through the media.  What he had to say at the press conference was 100% calculated and Phil knew exactly what the aftermath would be.  He is the only one on the US team who was sitting at the conference that could've said that, and the only one that CAN HANDLE what comes with saying such polarizing comments.

Good on him for having the balls to say something different and to not conform to the typical BS rhetoric we hear most athletes say these days.  When you get your rear ends whipped like they did and have been getting the last several cups (besides 08), you need to ruffle some feathers.  It's a press conference and that environment is meant to say things and give answers to questions, good or bad, etc.

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Same question as that I posed to @David in FL: when should he have done it? When it wouldn't matter and nobody would care?

That's the dumbest time to say something that you want HEARD.

he should have said something along the lines of "we played really well in 2008 and I think Azinger did a great job and maybe there was something to the way he did that we should go back to..  But I know that Tom also worked his butt off and did a great job.  Ultimately it comes down to the players and we just didn't it get done."  Then when it comes time to plan for the next one, make your chance for change.  You can advocate for progress and change without throwing the last guy under the bus minutes after the contest ends.

I just don't agree that the ends justify the means when the means in all cases.  Was it effective? Sure.  But there's more to being right than being effective.

Let's assume he felt he exhausted those options. What would you have him do?

That the players were not invested because Watson treated them like they were (sometimes insubordinate) soldiers under his command, not that they were players who deserved to be communicated with and treated with respect.

Maybe its just me, but I don't buy it.  There's nothing commendable about blaming someone else because you didn't care enough.  Look at the other guy's quote from Poulter.  Their captain says he's sitting and he's fine with it.  Phil doesn't see himself as part of a team so he complains about the leader, argues with him when he's benched, then throws him under the bus as soon as they lose.

Honestly, I think they'd be better off finding a way to keep guys like Phil and Bubba off the team.

I agree with @iacas on this one.

There is no right or wrong time. People are going to try to find fault just because they want to. It's how the internet and media is now. It is all opinionated and fault driven. I find no fault in what Phil said.

This one's for you, @saevel25 .  Last thursday Joe Girardi reamed the team in the locker room before the game.  Someone leaked that it occurred.  Media asked Derek Jeter.  His response?  "You know better than to ask me a question like that."

One sure fire way to ruin a team's cohesion is to take pot shots at the leader in the media and make sure all the dirty laundry gets aired.

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he should have said something along the lines of "we played really well in 2008 and I think Azinger did a great job and maybe there was something to the way he did that we should go back to..  But I know that Tom also worked his butt off and did a great job.  Ultimately it comes down to the players and we just didn't it get done."  Then when it comes time to plan for the next one, make your chance for change.  You can advocate for progress and change without throwing the last guy under the bus minutes after the contest ends.

I just don't agree that the ends justify the means when the means in all cases.  Was it effective? Sure.  But there's more to being right than being effective.

Maybe its just me, but I don't buy it.  There's nothing commendable about blaming someone else because you didn't care enough.  Look at the other guy's quote from Poulter.  Their captain says he's sitting and he's fine with it.  Phil doesn't see himself as part of a team so he complains about the leader, argues with him when he's benched, then throws him under the bus as soon as they lose.

Honestly, I think they'd be better off finding a way to keep guys like Phil and Bubba off the team.

This one's for you, @saevel25 .  Last thursday Joe Girardi reamed the team in the locker room before the game.  Someone leaked that it occurred.  Media asked Derek Jeter.  His response?  "You know better than to ask me a question like that."

One sure fire way to ruin a team's cohesion is to take pot shots at the leader in the media and make sure all the dirty laundry gets aired.

Funny thing about a Ryder Cup is that the team and coach is different each time it is played. The comments were made AFTER the event, so it's not the same comparison. In a baseball team, you have the same coach and relatively the same players in a continuous cycle of games and seasons. If Phil made these comments before or during the event, I can see a valid comparison.

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Funny thing about a Ryder Cup is that the team and coach is different each time it is played. The comments were made AFTER the event, so it's not the same comparison. In a baseball team, you have the same coach and relatively the same players in a continuous cycle of games and seasons. If Phil made these comments before or during the event, I can see a valid comparison.

I have a feeling that if you asked Derek Jeter today what was said, his response would be the same.

I do get your point though about it being after the event, and maybe if he said it today I wouldn't have as much of a problem with it.  But I'm not so sure.  Yes, the competition ended, but its still a display of individualism that sets a bad example going forward.

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I have a feeling that if you asked Derek Jeter today what was said, his response would be the same.

I do get your point though about it being after the event, and maybe if he said it today I wouldn't have as much of a problem with it.  But I'm not so sure.  Yes, the competition ended, but its still a display of individualism that sets a bad example going forward.

I don't know, people tend to write their "tell all" stories after they retire. :-D

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he should have said something along the lines of "we played really well in 2008 and I think Azinger did a great job and maybe there was something to the way he did that we should go back to..  But I know that Tom also worked his butt off and did a great job.  Ultimately it comes down to the players and we just didn't it get done."  Then when it comes time to plan for the next one, make your chance for change.  You can advocate for progress and change without throwing the last guy under the bus minutes after the contest ends.

I just don't agree that the ends justify the means when the means in all cases.  Was it effective? Sure.  But there's more to being right than being effective.

It's not my impression that Tom worked his butt off so I don't see the comment being warranted.  Based on what is coming out, it doesn't appear he put much effort into being captain this time around.  It's possible Watson got annoyed when no one showed up for the practice round, but his overall attitude and leadership skills was lacking.

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I have a feeling that if you asked Derek Jeter today what was said, his response would be the same.

I do get your point though about it being after the event, and maybe if he said it today I wouldn't have as much of a problem with it.  But I'm not so sure.  Yes, the competition ended, but its still a display of individualism that sets a bad example going forward.


I would feel different if I thought Phil was being mean spirited or personal. I have people criticize me on a continuous basis. I'm not afraid to admit when I'm wrong, but I don't take it personal. I'm also not afraid to tell someone they are wrong. Why is it so unacceptable to criticize someone these days?

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I see nothing wrong with a senior guy ... saying what he thinks about a format that does change based on the captain ... these teams/captain are dynamic every 2 years ... so no team dynamics were destroyed ... I also see nothing wrong with answering the question truthfully ... and no one else commented to the contrary ... he may help the next team ... of which Phil may not be a part of ... I think he just spoke the minds of a few others ... Phil was the right guy to make the comment ... and I feel he has a enough stripes on his sleeves to do so.
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I don't totally agree with the notion that there is no right or wrong time to say these kind of things. I can certainly be persuaded that perhaps there's no right time, but there's certainly a wrong time, and so far as we can gather this happened mid match on the Friday evening. That's desperate stuff, and normally reserved for a team in absolute crisis. When a team splits into two camps the result is nearly always guaranteed. It might explain why Bradley wasn't selected too the following day, and although its wild speculation now, but there will have been other more sensitive team members who are likely to have been affected by the sight of captain and self-styled senior leader arguing with each other

I'm also reminded of an article that was written shortly after the USPGA in the UK's Daily Telegraph which hinted that US morale was in trouble and that the team was split because of the way Tom Watson was moving the goalposts everytime Tiger Woods failed to meet the latest standard. The journo who wrote that would have been in Valhalla and is normally very accurate in his reporting. He knows the players, caddies, agent, entourage, confidantes etc and doesn't have a repuation for making things up. He never said who the player(s) was, but you can trace a palpable increase in Mickelson's Ryder Cup narrative once Tiger pulled out

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Watson made a mistake by playing Phil 36 holes on the first day. He had fresh players who could have played the second loop that day but he chose to play a 44 year old who has a history of arthritis. Then he benches both him and Keegan the next day which I would imagine didn't make them feel very special. As time passes i would not be surprised if other negative comments emerge about Watson's decisions from other players.

As Watson made his press conferences I could not help notice what a striking resemblance he has to Howdy Doody!

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This might be off topic, but on the subject of coaching, I've never played on a "team" where individuals competed in the field of play, (well, except wrestling for one year in H.S.), but I've always been curious - does a captain or team coach really matter that much, honestly, in PGA Tour-level golf? Aside from pairing people for four ball, etc., determining who sits out and who plays (as in Phil this year), what else does a coach do? In team sports, the schemes, plays, decisions, etc. made by a coach have a tremendous outcome on the on-field performance of the players, but golf to me seems to be so much of an individual effort when the "game" actually starts, how much does a captain even matter? I would even make the same argument to a degree about baseball managers. An exceptional coach in football can honestly take a sub .500 team and add a few wins by scheme alone.

Would the U.S. have gotten a single 1/2 point more if Paul Azinger or the best captain in history were "coaching?" Even the decisions made by captains in Ryder Cup seem to me so obvious that any PGA Tour professional who would even be considered as a Ryder Cup captain could make them  - i.e. Stricker and Woods played well together in the past (although that didn't work in 2012), as did Keegan and Phil, etc. The whole Phil thing about guys being in "pods" together, and having a fiery captain that builds camaraderie, which some argued the Europeans had vs. Watson as the stoic hands-off guy seems overblown to me. These are guys who play together several weekends a year, every year, and if they can't motivate themselves to be together for a week or two to represent their country in an event this prestigious - where it's an honor to make the team - what's a coach going to do about it? I've never heard someone complain that an Olympic team where individuals compete like ice skating or gymnastics didn't do well was because of inner strife amongst the players.

Just some thoughts, and I wanted to see what experienced golfers, some of whom I'm sure have played on high school ,college, or on pro tours, think. Thanks

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I voted yes.

The U.S. team has sucked and Phil is taking a leadership role. Sometimes that means ruffling feathers. If he said it at any other time it would not have had the impact it had this time. He's older, will be a Ryder Cup captain soon enough, and then people can remind him of what he said should his team fail to win. He knows this, too.

Watson was a terrible captain. Yes, had the guys played better Sunday they'd have won… but they basically split the singles matches and lost by a LOT. Why? Because they were down 10-6 going into it. Why was Webb first off the tee playing terribly? Why were Reed/Spieth sat? Etc.

The list of gaffes is huge.

It goes beyond the "pod" system Azinger used, though making players a little bit more accountable for and to each other - having a game plan so players know WHY they're sitting or that they might sit if they don't produce also helps.

My take exactly. I love Tom Watson as a player but I agree he did a terrible job Captaining this team. It all started when he benched Spieth and Reed on Friday afternoon. What was he thinking? He seemed detached and over his head. I understand that players have to hit shots but building team chemistry is all important in this kind of competition and it seemed the US had little of this.

As far as Phil's remarks, he answered the question presented to him and surely he was frustrated with the outcome and how he was used. How the hell does the ever choking Jim Furyk get more matches than Mickelson?

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My take exactly. I love Tom Watson as a player but I agree he did a terrible job Captaining this team. It all started when he benched Spieth and Reed on Friday afternoon. What was he thinking? He seemed detached and over his head. I understand that players have to hit shots but building team chemistry is all important in this kind of competition and it seemed the US had little of this.

As far as Phil's remarks, he answered the question presented to him and surely he was frustrated with the outcome and how he was used. How the hell does the ever choking Jim Furyk get more matches than Mickelson?

The Americans lost because they couldn't play alternate shot format. It all comes down to the players preparing themselves to be able to execute the shots we they need to.

I wonder what will be said if they go back to the "pod" system, have that warm fuzzy chemistry, and then get their asses smoked again?

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