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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
      67
    • No, it was passive aggressive and he threw Watson under the bus
      66


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Tom's job as the captain was done, and Phil had more of a right to be there than Tom. Tom was elected (not by the players mind you), Phil earned the points.

a) He was asked the question. He answered it. He didn't trash Watson except with one small comment at the end.

b) Watson didn't take any of the blame himself. He repeatedly blamed the players.

c) Currently you already DO take the trophy every two years the way it's run. Phil perhaps wants to see that changed.

Did you actually watch the video? Because it feels like you didn't. He wasn't exactly going all out lashing at Watson. He simply said there was very little player investment in the years since 2008, which is again the topic about which he was asked.

Why not? Azinger applied a different formula. He got 4 captain's picks. He changed the way people got on their team. He involved the players. He got a bit lucky, too, but that U.S. team played differently. They had the "camaraderie" you see when your team is winning.

Why do you just assume "it's not Watson's fault"? Why can't it be the fault of Watson. And Pavin. And Sutton. And so on? Why not?

Phil is saying the FORMULA is off.

Are you assuming that wasn't done? For all anyone but a select few know, it could have been going on for years.

Plus, he was asked the question.

.....

Were you watching the same press conference?

a) You don't know that he hasn't been saying this "in private" for years.

b) Phil didn't go full-on crazy. He was asked the question, answered it, and threw in a single utterance at the end about Watson.

c) Watson repeatedly threw his players and his vice captains under the bus throughout the week! Plus there's evidence he sat Phil for personal reasons?

Please. "Wouldn't stoop to Phil's level?" IMO, he went below it.

Plus, Tom was no longer the captain. He lost that title the instant the matches were over. He was no longer "leading" Phil and the rest of the U.S. team into anything.

Again, did you watch the press conference? He said he didn't like the way the teams were run in previous years too.

I expect things to change, and Phil will deserve a big part of the credit for it.

I absolutely can.

And Azinger did want him involved, even after 2002, 2004, 2006…

.....

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

.....

And the fact that nobody spoke up for Tom - none of the other players - I commented on before as proof that Phil was simply playing leader there and speaking on behalf of many of the other players.

Fair points. Phil answered the Q, sure, but everyone in that room knew what was directly implied (yes, I did watch the conference). Watson praised his players as I recall, said they gave their all. He also pondered making mistakes in terms of who was playing when and how many times. I'm fine with Mickleson being fed up with losing and wanting a change. Nothing wrong with that. I have an issue with they way he chose to handle it.

Maybe you have a point re. election of the Captain though. Maybe the players should shoulder the whole thing - Captain, VCs etc? Not sure who Phil would blame then though.

Ironically, Mickleson is bound to get the captaincy in the future and, generally, it's a crap shoot. Your guys play well, you likely win. Sod's Law is Mickleson's tenure would end with a win, which would then be used as justification that he was right here.

I don't really have an issue with the idea the formula is off. Maybe the other captains were poor as well. Who knows. We don't really. Again, I have an issue with the way Mickleson chose to do this.

When did Watson throw his players or VCs 'under the bus' during the event etc? I watched a lot of it and I didn't come away with that impression at all.

I'd have Mickleson behave with some dignity in front of the cameras.

The last point is pretty irrelevant at the moment. How would we know that Mickleson's actual speech wasn't off the cuff? Assuming it might have been, I'm not sure I would have known what to say after Mickleson's party piece. The bit of slack I'll allow him is in response to the Q which was along the lines "Was anyone included in the decision making?" - that was a nasty one and hard to get out of smoothly; not that he tried.

There's obviously a lot to this. Watson invites players to sample Gleneagles after Scottish Open and most don't have the courtesy to show up although, ironically, Bradley did didn't he? Mickleson swans in to the RC alone via private jet (and swans out the same way) - good team ethic Phil.

I guess this is simply an issue about how to raise an issue - I think it's totally unacceptable to do as Mickleson did. Many others seem to be OK with it.

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.

Yes, you can, although it comes down to what one thinks is appropriate in the environment they were in.

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.

Umm. Maybe Player cheated??? I don't detect any remorse when people talk about VJ being accused (although here I have never seen one iota of evidence or heard from his mysterious playing partners on the day). Or Montgomerie. Or Dyson....

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.

Bingo. That's exactly what Mickleson should have done and your example re. Jeter etc is instructive. The rest of what you say is A1 as well.

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?

Do you have people regularly trash you and your work in front of your peers? In front of others? Do you think that's acceptable? It's not unacceptable to criticise - that's healthy - but this is not the way to get it done.

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Fair points. Phil answered the Q, sure, but everyone in that room knew what was directly implied (yes, I did watch the conference). Watson praised his players as I recall, said they gave their all. He also pondered making mistakes in terms of who was playing when and how many times. I'm fine with Mickleson being fed up with losing and wanting a change. Nothing wrong with that. I have an issue with they way he chose to handle it.

Maybe you have a point re. election of the Captain though. Maybe the players should shoulder the whole thing - Captain, VCs etc? Not sure who Phil would blame then though.

Ironically, Mickleson is bound to get the captaincy in the future and, generally, it's a crap shoot. Your guys play well, you likely win. Sod's Law is Mickleson's tenure would end with a win, which would then be used as justification that he was right here.

I don't really have an issue with the idea the formula is off. Maybe the other captains were poor as well. Who knows. We don't really. Again, I have an issue with the way Mickleson chose to do this.

When did Watson throw his players or VCs 'under the bus' during the event etc? I watched a lot of it and I didn't come away with that impression at all.

I'd have Mickleson behave with some dignity in front of the cameras.

The last point is pretty irrelevant at the moment. How would we know that Mickleson's actual speech wasn't off the cuff? Assuming it might have been, I'm not sure I would have known what to say after Mickleson's party piece. The bit of slack I'll allow him is in response to the Q which was along the lines "Was anyone included in the decision making?" - that was a nasty one and hard to get out of smoothly; not that he tried.

There's obviously a lot to this. Watson invites players to sample Gleneagles after Scottish Open and most don't have the courtesy to show up although, ironically, Bradley did didn't he? Mickleson swans in to the RC alone via private jet (and swans out the same way) - good team ethic Phil.

I guess this is simply an issue about how to raise an issue - I think it's totally unacceptable to do as Mickleson did. Many others seem to be OK with it.

Yes, you can, although it comes down to what one thinks is appropriate in the environment they were in.

Umm. Maybe Player cheated??? I don't detect any remorse when people talk about VJ being accused (although here I have never seen one iota of evidence or heard from his mysterious playing partners on the day). Or Montgomerie. Or Dyson....

Bingo. That's exactly what Mickleson should have done and your example re. Jeter etc is instructive. The rest of what you say is A1 as well.

Do you have people regularly trash you and your work in front of your peers? In front of others? Do you think that's acceptable? It's not unacceptable to criticise - that's healthy - but this is not the way to get it done.

Yes, then I prove them wrong in front of the executives. As long as they don't make it personal, which several FORMER employees did, it's in fair territory. I've had many heated arguments with people, then we go have a beer and go back at it the next day. ;-)

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The bottom line:

1) Phil will be on more Ryder Cup teams and will captain one or more in the coming years, and.

2) Tom Watson will never again captain an international golf team of any kind.

The PGA of America better get its head out of its butt and start consulting with the players in its choice of captains.  Thinking they could whip the players into shape by appointing a martinet was stupid right from the start.  There was a time when playing captains were not all that uncommon.  Maybe it is time to give that a try and if so, I nominate Steve Stricker.  If not a playing captain then the choice should be between a repeat for Azinger or bringing in Freddy Couples from his successful President's Cup gig, IMO.

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Umm. Maybe Player cheated??? I don't detect any remorse when people talk about VJ being accused (although here I have never seen one iota of evidence or heard from his mysterious playing partners on the day). Or Montgomerie. Or Dyson....

Yeah, um only he didn't.  Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus were part of that Skins game foursome and saw nothing wrong in what Player did (removing a leaf from behind his ball). No skins were won on the hole as Watson, Player and Nicklaus all ended up with pars. And there was no other field to protect. Watson was just being an over competitive, dictitorial a-hole, making an accusation without thinking of the implications.  Player to this day, says it still hurt him greatly.

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Yes, then I prove them wrong in front of the executives. As long as they don't make it personal, which several FORMER employees did, it's in fair territory. I've had many heated arguments with people, then we go have a beer and go back at it the next day.

Interesting. Cheers.

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Yeah, um only he didn't.  Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus were part of that Skins game foursome and saw nothing. No skins were won on the hole as Watson, Player and Nicklaus all ended up with pars. And there was no other field to protect. Watson was just being an over competitive, dictitorial a-hole, making an accusation without thinking of the implications.  Player to this day, says it still hurt him greatly.


The fact Palmer and Nicklaus saw "nothing" means just that, not a lot. I've played in 4-balls and called people on ball marking which the other 2 have had no idea was going on. Cheating is cheating. I'm sure Player says it hurt - it's a big accusation for a golfer.

What was the actual accusation Watson made? Do you know? I'm just curious as it's not one I've heard re. Watson before.

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The fact Palmer and Nicklaus saw "nothing" means just that, not a lot. I've played in 4-balls and called people on ball marking which the other 2 have had no idea was going on. Cheating is cheating. I'm sure Player says it hurt - it's a big accusation for a golfer.

What was the actual accusation Watson made? Do you know? I'm just curious as it's not one I've heard re. Watson before.

Sorry, but I corrected post while you were responding to say they saw nothing wrong in what Player did.

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Originally Posted by dsc123

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."

So you wanted him to lie? Say something he didn't think was true? He should say that despite not thinking that Tom worked his butt off and did a great job? Please.

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.

Again, you seem to be ignoring the distinct possibility that he's been trying to talk about this for years now . Months at least.

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.

Not how I see it at all. Phil wanted the team to be MORE of a team, to have more input, not to have a "boss" and to be benched for stupid personal reasons.

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.

Again, it was after they'd lost.

Watson praised his players as I recall, said they gave their all.

You seemingly did not watch the same press conference. Watson threw his players under the bus. Complained about their conditioning. Blamed his assistant captains for their decisions. Did not take any of the blame on himself. Didn't congratulate McGinley. Etc.

Nothing wrong with that. I have an issue with they way he chose to handle it.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Ironically, Mickleson is bound to get the captaincy in the future and, generally, it's a crap shoot. Your guys play well, you likely win. Sod's Law is Mickleson's tenure would end with a win, which would then be used as justification that he was right here.

Guys need to be put in a position to win too.

Look, the Ryder cup is a coin flip. The players are pretty much evenly matched, year in and year out. The advantage Europe has had? A game plan for the captains. McGinley did just as the captains before him did. So did Olazabal. Right on down the line.

They're prepped. U.S. Captains have to reinvent the wheel each and every time. They don't talk extensively. They aren't "apprenticed" in years prior to their captaincy.

In a coin flip, it's enough to tilt the odds.

I don't really have an issue with the idea the formula is off. Maybe the other captains were poor as well. Who knows. We don't really. Again, I have an issue with the way Mickleson chose to do this.

I don't. But then again, I value honesty and directness, and hate "politics" and white lies.

When did Watson throw his players or VCs 'under the bus' during the event etc? I watched a lot of it and I didn't come away with that impression at all.

See above. Several accounts of this being the case.

There's obviously a lot to this. Watson invites players to sample Gleneagles after Scottish Open and most don't have the courtesy to show up although, ironically, Bradley did didn't he? Mickleson swans in to the RC alone via private jet (and swans out the same way) - good team ethic Phil.

That was all pre-arranged and pre-approved. It made no sense to fly back to the U.S. just to get on his plane and fly back to Europe.

Again, if you consider the team , they stood by Phil far more so than they stood by Watson. He was, it would seem apparent, their spokesperson in sharing some of the issues they've had with the captaincy this year and in recent years.

I guess this is simply an issue about how to raise an issue - I think it's totally unacceptable to do as Mickleson did. Many others seem to be OK with it.

I am. If this is all your point boils down to, well, so be it. As i said I value honesty and directness. Say what you mean, mean what you say.

Bingo. That's exactly what Mickleson should have done and your example re. Jeter etc is instructive. The rest of what you say is A1 as well.

The Jeter thing is entirely different. Tom Watson is not the captain next time around or in perpetuity. He's done.

Yeah, um only he didn't.  Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus were part of that Skins game foursome and saw nothing wrong in what Player did (removing a leaf from behind his ball). No skins were won on the hole as Watson, Player and Nicklaus all ended up with pars. And there was no other field to protect. Watson was just being an over competitive, dictitorial a-hole, making an accusation without thinking of the implications.  Player to this day, says it still hurt him greatly.


Player likely cheated. He had a reputation for using a wood, pushing down rough behind his ball, and then "changing his mind" to hit an iron after his lie had been improved.

P.S. @misty_mountainhop , please multiquote.

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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?

I can't (nor can you) speak to how players prepare for this sort of match but having a good partner is vitally important. It's obvious that Spieth and Reed were a great team and being young had a lot of energy. Yet Watson benched them Friday afternoon, instead playing 40+ year old Phil and Keegan Bradley, wiping out Phil for a t least the Saturday AM matches. Watson also said he would play the hot hand and by benching those two he went back on his word.

There's a lot more to it than partners and you are 100% right that players have to hit shots but you have to match up players by personality and strengths and weaknesses. The US team, regardless of the captaincy played poorly when it counted but Watson did little to enable the US to do it's best. Camaraderie goes a long way. The Euro team has this in spades.

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It wouldn't surprise me if the reporter was even "given" the question. I'm still waiting to see one quote from anyone defending Tom Watson? The President of the PGA basically took Phil's side this morning.

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Player likely cheated. He had a reputation for using a wood, pushing down rough behind his ball, and then "changing his mind" to hit an iron after his lie had been improved.

P.S. @misty_mountainhop, please multiquote.

This beef was about removing a leaf. Maybe Watson was attacking becuase he was ASSuming something based on Gary's reputation. It's time to let it go when the only two other players in the field said it was okay by them. The point of it all is was just trying to put some perspective to all those posts decrying "classless" Phil for inappropriately attacking "poor old" Tom Watson, when Watson himself would never hesitate to call someone out regardless of the circumstances or implications.

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This beef was about removing a leaf. Maybe Watson was attacking becuase he was ASSuming something base on Gary's reputation. It's time to let it go when the only two other players in the field said it was okay by them. Just trying to put some perspective to all those posts decrying "classless" Phil for inappropriately attacking "poor old" Tom Watson, when Watson himself would never hesitate to call someone out regardless of the circumstances or implications.

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2194&dat;=19831129&id;=R6QyAAAAIBAJ&sjid;=P-8FAAAAIBAJ&pg;=6023,4372762

I'd call a player out for that too if it is what Watson said it was.

Let's get back to the topic though eh?

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So you wanted him to lie? Say something he didn't think was true? He should say that despite not thinking that Tom worked his butt off and did a great job? Please.

I don't know that its a lie, I haven't seen any suggestion that he didn't work hard.  The only thing I've seen on that topic is Furyk, who said he did.  But its possible to give an honest answer to a question AND not be dick.    If it wasn't his hard work it could have been something else.  Hdcould have said something short and sweet about Azinger and complimented in captain for something .

Again, you seem to be ignoring the distinct possibility that he's been trying to talk about this for years now. Months at least.

I'm ignoring a lot of possibilities about which I have no reason to know did or did not happen.  Why would you assume that it did?

Not how I see it at all. Phil wanted the team to be MORE of a team, to have more input, not to have a "boss" and to be benched for stupid personal reasons.

I try to think of this by relating to the teams i've been a part of.  My work isn't really a team environment, but I think back to high school sports, or even the adult softball leagues I play in now.  None of those involve decisions by committee.  Its the opposite of that.  Why would a player expect to have a say in the matchups?

The part about being benched for stupid personal reasons, I assume you mean the claim that he overheard phil complaining to others about his decisions?  I agree that he shouldn't be benched for that, but how about Phil there?  For an influential member of the clubhouse to spread dissent in the middle of the competition is terrible.  Its childish and selfish.  .

Again, it was after they'd lost.

It still sets an example going forward.  The young guys on the team see a great player complaining to the media about the captain as soon as they lose.  They see that its acceptable to point fingers.  That's the opposite of what you want from a team.  Its an example for the next team.

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While he may have had a point, he was wrong to say it like that.  I voted no.  Maybe a different coaching style could have helped - I don't know - but I also think there were a few other things that could have helped as well.

If the guys simply hit better shots on the course during the ends of those 4 matches then the US wins.  Nothing at all happens different in the coaching realm and we're sitting here talking about all of the things Watson did right and the things McGinley did wrong.

While I still think that a couple of shots here and there could have swung this thing our direction and changed the entire narrative of the post Cup discussion, I've also been persuaded by the opinions of some of you to change my mind a bit on Phils comments.

It's something I'd never be able to do (I'm too much of a wuss and like everybody to like me), I acknowledge that what Phil did could have been in the best interest of the US Ryder Cup chances in the future.  And for that reason, I'll go ahead and say that I change my vote to A.  If hurting Tom Watsons feelings gets us to start winning the Ryder Cup again, it's a small price to pay, and I think even Tom Watson would be OK with that.

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It still sets an example going forward.  The young guys on the team see a great player complaining to the media about the captain as soon as they lose.  They see that its acceptable to point fingers.  That's the opposite of what you want from a team.  Its an example for the next team.

Hard to see it as an example going backwards. Seriously. Why not simply "an example"? This sort of language has to stop.

The younger guys won't see it as acceptable. They will see it as Phil grandstanding again and seeing himself as bigger than the game.

Watson was a dreadful captain - and the fact that he seemed to enjoy being called "captain" by the players underscores this. Talk about cringeworthy.....

The mini-pod Christian pairing of Watson and Simpson was another ill-conceived idea.

What Phil said was out of line, but perhaps an understandable reaction to Tom  Watson's clueless performance.

Still, he should have buttoned his lip. He didn't need to trot out the usual platitudes, but maybe silence would have said a lot more.

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Hard to see it as an example going backwards. Seriously. Why not simply "an example"? This sort of language has to stop

Because the first Time I tried to make the point the response was that it can't effect the chemistry because the event had concluded.

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Hard to see it as an example going backwards. Seriously. Why not simply "an example"? This sort of language has to stop.

LOL.  You have no idea how close I was to typing "going forward" (instead of the red text) in my post right before yours:

While I still think that a couple of shots here and there could have swung this thing our direction and changed the entire narrative of the post Cup discussion, I've also been persuaded by the opinions of some of you to change my mind a bit on Phils comments.

It's something I'd never be able to do (I'm too much of a wuss and like everybody to like me), I acknowledge that what Phil did could have been in the best interest of the US Ryder Cup chances in the future.  And for that reason, I'll go ahead and say that I change my vote to A.  If hurting Tom Watsons feelings gets us to start winning the Ryder Cup again, it's a small price to pay, and I think even Tom Watson would be OK with that.

:-P

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Well it seems everyone is in agreement that Watson made bad decisions! And that if Phil should/shouldn't have said what he did comes down to our own moral opinion! I've read the full transcript and still think Phil chose his words carefully to say what he wanted to say, he could have been waaayyyy more brutal, he didn't really throw him under a bus but could have, he just hinted that perhaps they lacked the team spirit that Europe had and he'd prefer to do things differently! I'm sure he'll get his chance, and I hope that when does,.. he gets beat!

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