Phil Mickelson has taken a terrible slating for saying what most of the golfing world knew to be true after Europe’s crushing five-point defeat of his side in the 40th Ryder Cup – that is, US golf needs to find a winning formula again.
It was all too easy for the Twitteratti to lay into Lefty and stick up for nice old geezer Tom Watson, who captained his country to their worst defeat since 2006. The pensioner didn’t even have previously-poisonous element Tiger Woods to blame for the fractures in his squad.
Mickelson’s take-down of Watson in the US’s post-competition press conference may have been wince-inducing, but the 44-year-old was at least forthcoming with what he believes can cure their ills:
We had a great formula in ’08 and I don’t know why we have strayed from it… The other thing Paul (Azinger) did really well was he had a great game-plan for us; how we were going to go about doing this…if so-and-so is playing well, if so-and-so is not playing well – we had a real game-plan…
We use that same process in the Presidents Cup and we do really well.
It’s clear from the three-time Masters champion’s mention of the last US captain to lead his men to the trophy, along with the line regarding the Presidents Cup, that Mickelson would pick one from two experienced skippers for Hazeltine National’s Ryder Cup renewal in two years.
He may get his wish, as both are among the favourites in the betting.
Azinger, the 4/1 second-favourite behind 3/1 jolly David Toms in this market, has already left his name in the hat by not ruling anything out in an interview with USA Today, where the 54-year-old also landed a few jabs on the PGA of America regarding the method for picking captains.
However, after breaking 27 years of protocol by bringing back a previously triumphant leader, with such dire results, a better bet could be three-time Presidents Cup-winning skipper Fred Couples at 5/1.
This would clearly placate Mickelson, after he did everything but name the man who has held off the rest of the world team (minus Europe) in three consecutive clashes since 2009.
Couples is hands-off, preferring to place trust in his players’ decisions and chemistry with their partners, in contrast with Watson’s apparent my-way-or-the-highway-in-dulcet-tones approach.
As a five time Ryder Cup player, and three-time winner, who has clearly served dues in a lead role, Couples should be next in line for the US captaincy.
Then again, you can also have 10/1 that they just give it to Mickelson.