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Bashing or brilliance? The value of Mickelson’s latest media stumble



Phil Mickelson’s recent comments about Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson are the latest addition to “Mickelson’s Greatest Hits.” And whether you thought Phil was right for speaking his mind in response to a direct question, or you think he was out of line, likely depends on how you feel about “Phil being Phil.”

The thing is, for as much as Mickelson is criticized for his comments, there’s sometimes a lot of value in what he says — and his Ryder Cup comments about Watson could end up being the most valuable of his controversial statements through the years.

Sure, there were regrettable moments such as his claim that Tiger Woods was using inferior equipment and texting commissioner Finchem from the fairway in 2012 to complain about fans having phones. While you might not agree with his comments, you should acknowledge his willingness to speak his mind on topics such as his tax situation in California and making the case that Ryder Cup players should be paid. As wrong as you think he might have been, what other high-profile Tour player would ever say such things?

That brings us to Mickelson’s criticism of U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson in the post-event press conference, while Watson sat just a few seats from the disgruntled veteran.

Here’s the full transcript of what Phil the Thrill had to say (He jumped at the chance to answer a question posed to anyone on the ’08 team):

Q. Anyone that was on the team at Valhalla, can you put your finger on what worked in 2008 and what hasn’t worked since?

PHIL MICKELSON: There were two things that allow us to play our best I think that Paul Azinger did, and one was he got everybody invested in the process. He got everybody invested in who they were going to play with, who the picks were going to be, who was going to be in their pod, who — when they would play, and they had a great leader for each pod. In my case, we had Ray Floyd, and we hung out together and we were all invested in each other’s play. We were invested in picking Hunter that week; Anthony Kim and myself and Justin were in a pod, and we were involved on having Hunter be our guy to fill our pod. So we were invested in the process. And the other thing that Paul did really well was he had a great game plan for us, you know, how we were going to go about doing this. How we were going to go about playing together; golf ball, format, what we were going to do, if so-and-so is playing well, if so-and-so is not playing well, we had a real game plan. Those two things helped us bring out our best golf. And I think that, you know, we all do the best that we can and we’re all trying our hardest, and I’m just looking back at what gave us the most success. Because we use that same process in The Presidents Cup and we do really well. Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best.

Q. That felt like a pretty brutal destruction of the leadership that’s gone on this week.

PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, I’m sorry you’re taking it that way. I’m just talking about what Paul Azinger did to help us play our best. It’s certainly — I don’t understand why you would take it that way. You asked me what I thought we should do going toward to bring our best golf out and I go back to when we played our best golf and try to replicate that formula.

Q. That didn’t happen this week?

PHIL MICKELSON: Uh (pausing) no. No, nobody here was in any decision. So, no.

The buried lede in this widely reported story: While the form of Mickelson’s comments may have been inappropriate, they amount to a brilliant stratagem: getting those invested in the process talking about Paul Azinger’s winning tactics in 2008 and the possibility of bringing Azinger back as a captain.

Thus, Phil took a gamble and did something entirely ill advised, yes. However, if the U.S. Ryder Cup team in 2016 under Paul Azinger or a coach employing his pod system wins the Cup, Mickelson fans and foes alike will return to Lefty’s press conference as the origin of the winning effort.

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  1. Fred

    Oct 2, 2014 at 8:19 am

    In my view, the US side doesn’t know how to win in match play team formats. US golf culture is about individual play in a stroke play format. In match play teams, you have to consider your partner and roll with the punches if he lets you down. You have to pick him up. US players aren’t accustomed to that – not that they don’t understand it – it’s that they are pretty green at it. Think Tiger and Phil together… Azinger’s methods helped overcome that in that the team pod and it’s leader defined everyone’s roles. Egos had to be checked in his system and they bought in. That is key, when you consider the culture of US me-oriented players. Euros are more supportive, their comraderie extends beyond one weekend every two years. When a US guy lets his team down, it’s seems like he let his whole nation down. As a culture of braggarts, US culture requires that you back it up. When you don’t, your confidence is shot. Not sure how to change the culture (do we need Patrick Reed’s antics?) but the US needs to change its mindset of winning these types of events and have a gameplan everyone is invested in.

    • Duh

      Oct 5, 2014 at 1:45 am

      Yeah, that’s why they won in 2008 more in the team matches than in the Singles. Duh.

      • ND Hickman

        Oct 7, 2014 at 7:47 am

        I think that 2008 had more to do with the fact that Flado was easily the worst captain Europe has ever seen.

  2. Larry

    Oct 2, 2014 at 3:39 am

    To those of us watching in Asia, the Europeans always talk like they are really lucky to be selected for the Ryder team. Whereas some of the American players give the impression the US team is really lucky to have them…likewise many of the international players in the Presidents Cup.

  3. stu

    Oct 1, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    I think people are forgetting two things here, firstly, they are all professional golfers who play against each other most weeks of the year, this should be no different, play those singles matches this week and U.S. probably win 7/5…Foursomes is where they lost it.
    Secondly, the U.S. won against a team organised by Nick Faldo, arguably Europe’s least popular Captain EVER…!!
    So Azinger’s method only gets credence from the fact that it has won Presidents cup matches , not for beating Faldos team…
    Phil was asked a question that he gave an honest answer to, however his frustrations of not playing Saturday and not being consulted leaked into the statement and suddenly it sounds like hes throwing digs at Tom, I think he has earned the right to be one of very few people that could question someone of Watsons stature but I think he was just comparing two separate methods.. one of which happened to be Azinger’s, a system utilised successfully in Presidents cup that could easily be adopted for a similar format in Ryder cup again..
    At the end of the day the players still have to go out and perform, and Europe just had more guys do it on the day..

  4. bo

    Oct 1, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    ok, here’s the thing…of course it comes down to players executing shots, but you have to blame Captain Watson for NOT putting players into positions to succeed. Not even mentioning Captain picks…

    Did anyone think Phil stood a chance on Friday afternoon after walking 18 brutal holes in a grueling match in the morning? The dudes is 45, has arthritis and needed a blow. Watson failing to put his players in a good position.

    Should Rickie and Jimmy have been playing a fourth straight match when they were clearly exhausted? no way. again a failure by the Captain.

    If Watson had sat Phil and Keegan on Fri afternoon, he could have played Spieth/Reed and had a rested Mick/Keegan Sat morning – allowing Rickie/Jimmy to get some rest.

    Especially since Phil/Kee are great in FourBall, and Ricky/Jimmy had been good in Foursomes. Win/win all around.

    Just switching those three matches around, the RC gets a lot closer…

    Terrible job as a Captain. Players cant execute when they arent on the field, or are worn down from too many minutes.

  5. Jack Nash

    Oct 1, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    Phil’s downfall came on the Plane Ride to the Ryder Cup. There were 11 U.S. Players on that flight, none of them named Mickleson. Like they said on golf Channel you support your Captain, you don’t throw him AND his plan under the Bus. You do that in private. What a teammate Phil is. I guess he went home on his own Jet also. Good for you Phil. No wonder the U.S. Has been getting hammered. Players of your era, like they said on GC are rated some of if not the best on the Planet yet are nowhere to be found on Ryder Cup weekend.

    • bo

      Oct 1, 2014 at 6:18 pm

      hard for Phil to put up points when he is on the bench or playing 36 after a grueling win thru 18 in the morning.

    • Mike

      Oct 4, 2014 at 9:11 am

      It was agreed that Phil was going on a different plane due to business he had over there. No one had a problem with it.

  6. gd4me

    Oct 1, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    I’ve read and listened to this exchange a number of times now, and I still don’t see how people are saying that Phil criticized Tom Watson. He was asked what worked in 2008 and answered that question, with the truth as he sees it (me too BTW). He was then goaded into saying he attacked Tom Watson, but he clearly stated that was misconstrued by the reporter. I’m not a huge Phil fan, but in this case I have to say he was innocent of the charges, was not whining, and provided an insightful response. Seems like the negative responders are the whining little beoches, not Phil. What’s the matter, no Tiger to pick on so you dig up someone else?

    • Domino

      Oct 3, 2014 at 1:40 pm

      I totally agree, he was asked a question and actually answered it, then everyone wants to say he was unfairly attacking Watson. Should he have just made something up? I thought it was great to hear an honest answer for once.

  7. Regis

    Oct 1, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    We seem to forget that match play is the format at the Cup. We get our butt kicked in alternate shot because the Euros are better shot makers. Work the ball from both sides, flight the ball, manufacture a shot out of trouble. We pick our team based upon their performance in American designed courses. The Euros grow up playing in the wind, tougher conditions, less manicured courses. It carries over to match play and especially alternate shot.

    • Bill

      Oct 4, 2014 at 8:13 pm

      Prior to the 2014 debacle, according to Ryder Cup statistics, the Americans were 53.5 to 58.5 in foursomes, 46.5 to 65.5 in four-ball and 84.5 to 83.5 in singles. This doesn’t sound like the Americans get the “butt kicked” in alternate shot, as you say. GM isn’t a basket-case of an international automotive company because of bad management, or bad labor, or bad government. It’s a group effort that turns success into failure. In the Ryder cup, it takes the combined effort of the PGA of America, the captain it picks, along with the process, the players, the site, the setup, and the management of the event to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

      Never once have I heard that Americans are incapable of succeeding, except from the “wussy-boy” press types. The PGA of America needs to get their collective old-fossil heads out of their you-know-what and start thinking like can-do Americans, instead of their fascist European brethren, to begin fixing the losing ways they have created and fostered for the last 25 years.

      • Joe

        Oct 7, 2014 at 12:32 am

        I’m pretty sure you have no idea what fascism is. Especially considering that there isn’t a single country in Europe with a fascist government, and hasn’t been one in…….oh, about 80 years. Learn some history man, you’re embarrassing us.

  8. ForgedIron

    Oct 1, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    Butthurt millionaires whining that their Hall of Fame captain isn’t nice to the them. Boo hoo. Make some putts.

    • Airbender

      Oct 1, 2014 at 1:39 pm

      He needs somebody to write a better whinning script.

    • Robert

      Oct 1, 2014 at 2:40 pm

      Have you really never experienced the difference between having a good boss and a bad boss?

  9. Airbender

    Oct 1, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    Phil is a sore loser (Blame other people first). Kinda remind me of Allan Iverson.
    Be a team player man!

  10. TR1PTIK

    Oct 1, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    I haven’t really cared that much about all of this, but finally took the time to read the transcript and watch the video. Though it is obvious how one could take Phil’s statements negatively, the truth is he never really addressed Watson’s role as Ryder Cup Captain except for saying that the players weren’t as involved in the process as they were in 2008 with Azinger. This is a total non-issue and people should find something else to gripe about.

    • jay gaydos

      Oct 1, 2014 at 12:46 pm

      Totally agree.
      The media, as usual, has to create an issue when there is no issue.

  11. Skip Miller

    Oct 1, 2014 at 11:49 am

    Why the caption “media stumble”? As with his play, Phil Mickelson has always been a “what you see is what you get” guy. He is straight forward, apparently honest, and speaks his mind in an intelligent and forthright manner when asked a question. What a constant flow of “fresh air” when we otherwise have “media speak” and “political correctness” being force fed to us on a daily basis.
    My advice to you so called journalists…. listen to the answers these guys give. Print the questions and answers verbatim, quit the failing attempts to psychologically dissect answers looking for more than what is there, keep your analysis in context with the question and respective answer, ditch the sensationalistic headlines, and quit the bashing.
    Remember your mother’s read your articles. They are individually and collectively embarrassed that you can’t apply what they taught you at kindergarten level….”if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all” and most of all “don’t start rumors”….

  12. Allen

    Oct 1, 2014 at 10:36 am

    Phil would have a complaint if he had a great Ryder Cup record. Heck make him the captain next time, lets see how he would do it.

    • Mike

      Oct 1, 2014 at 12:46 pm

      How was Phil complaining? He didn’t offer this statement. He was asked a question and gave his honest answer. Stop listening to the biased media hype and actually listen to what was asked and how he answered.

  13. Don

    Oct 1, 2014 at 10:35 am

    It’s going to be so awesome when Phil becomes Ryder Cup Captain. Controversy or not, appropriate or not, every golf outlet is going to insure that they have every Phil quote lined up for when he either succeeds or fails. It’s going to be glorious!

  14. john

    Oct 1, 2014 at 8:29 am

    This is what a real Ryder Cup captain does.

  15. RogerinNZ

    Oct 1, 2014 at 5:23 am

    Phil answered a question, offered an opinion.
    Thats life.
    The European Team pulled of The Big Saves and Won.
    Thats life.
    Nobody wanted a Draw did they?

  16. gplfing

    Oct 1, 2014 at 5:19 am

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Everything Is AWESOME!!!

    You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.

    Abraham Lincoln

    Golf marketing or management is not done correctly over that side of the pound, it needs young people, don’t bench Dustin..Anthony…and many
    others, young people is the future of the game, new thinking, the show
    is run by TM CEO and PGA old snobs… not AWESOME!!!


  17. antonio

    Oct 1, 2014 at 4:20 am

    Too much credit to Azinger and his methods. It was as simple as the americans clearly outplayed the europeans that week and team Europe was led by the worst captain ever in Ryder Cup history (captain calamity)

    • ParHunter

      Oct 1, 2014 at 9:47 am

      I think you might have a point here. Hardly anyone on the European team liked the captain that year given that he slated everyone at some point before.

      • RobCH

        Oct 2, 2014 at 11:33 am

        Whereas Tom Watson waited until the competition was under way before slating his players…

  18. Peter

    Oct 1, 2014 at 3:26 am

    I think Azinger and his Pod-system is given way too much credit for the 2008 US win. IMO most of the outcome comes down to the form of the players during the 3 Days of play.

    Also, it doesnt help the team-spirit having players who can’t handle being benched, even though their performance suggests it’s a good idea to rest them.

    It seems PM:s presser comments were more premeditated then just random spur of the moment thoughts.

  19. ChiefKeef

    Oct 1, 2014 at 1:49 am

    This should and will be forgotten within 2 weeks. Hell, Sergio said some extremely RACIST things regarding Tiger not too long ago and that has been completely forgotten in the media. What’s worse…racist comments or criticizing a Ryder Cup captain? Give me a freakin break. Watson did a shitty job and probably should have gotten WORSE comments from the players. The Ryder Cup is just a big blow-hard weekend anyway…a bunch of fake fist-pumps and annoying leprechauns yelling “c’mon!” Useless article and I can’t even comprehend why I’m wasting my time commenting on it.

    • TMTC

      Oct 4, 2014 at 10:51 am

      You talk about racist comments! …..and you call the Europeans “Leprechauns”
      What a moron.

  20. Yam

    Oct 1, 2014 at 1:25 am

    Tabloid bull. What a bore this piece of writing is.

    Here is Phil, not afraid to speak his mind, candidly, and he gets bashed for being American, speaking out loud, his mind. What has America come to, really?

  21. zoots

    Oct 1, 2014 at 1:16 am

    Very unprofessional on Phil’s part. Just crying because he got benched. Voice grievances in private to US RC bigwigs, not a public presser. Pods shmods as far as I’m concerned, US up 10-6 in 2012 (10-4 at one point) without pods. Shat the bed in singles, nothing to do with pods. Yeah Watson made some questionable decisions, so does every captain. America obviously weakened this year without the likes of Woods, DJ, Duff.

    • TMTC

      Oct 4, 2014 at 10:58 am

      Take a look at Eldrick’s Rider Cup record.
      It is poor, and in his present form, would most likely have been even worse this year!
      I agree with your comments on DJ & Duff.

  22. Joseph

    Oct 1, 2014 at 12:19 am

    I think Phil’s comments were made at a time were all were frustrated a bit. I think as time goes on, he’ll regret some of the things he said publicly. I don’t think going back to a POD system that worked one time is the long term answer. No disrespect to Azinger at all. I think the US needs multiple things to happen in order to turn this great event back into a rivalry. Unfortunately, the European team is loaded for several years to come with several top level players. If you look at US golf right now, Tiger and Phil are aging and not what they once used to be. I don’t see anyone on the US side that’s going to give Rory a run for his money at this point. Clearly the younger players have benefitted the US team. I simply think they have more fire in their bellies. They’re tougher. I think Furyk and Mickelson have played in their last RC. Thanks to them for all they’ve done for American golf, but its time to move in a new direction.

  23. Larry

    Sep 30, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    I think I played golf long enough to know there is only one shot in golf that gets the ball in the hole 99% of the time, and that is the putt…and I did not see Tom Watson putt once…

  24. Alex

    Sep 30, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    That’s not an accurate transcript.

    Please, relisten to it. The question is, “Phil and anyone else…?”

    He didn’t jump at the chance. The question was addressed to him first, then anyone else who might have been there.

    This is a misquote and it changes the context of the article.

    That’s pretty bad. I realize not all of us have journalism degrees or backgrounds but you can’t quote someone like that.

    • Gary Lewis

      Sep 30, 2014 at 11:23 pm

      The Captain can indeed have a positive effect on the outcome albeit maybe hard to measure. Perhaps Zinger was a better Captain. I really don’t have much of a clue on that. Ultimately the players have to execute and play in whatever formats they are assigned to play in. The US just got outplayed. I have some doubt as to whether a different strategy would have made much of a difference in this kind of a beating.

    • Matthew Carter

      Sep 30, 2014 at 11:37 pm

      Ben: you need to make sure info is accurate before telling a story. Each time TW was shown on TV, he looked as though he wasn’t in a good place. Looking at PM, you had thought it was party…. He was grinning ear to ear and definitely enjoying the moment. I can’t speak for the American team, but I can say that the Euros know how to have fun and more times than not, they get the job done.

      Players ought to pick the Captain…..euros do it why can’t we.?
      Maybe we ought to make it a AA verses EU Ryder Cup. Americans and Aussies!!!!
      Maybe we ought to pick players after FedEx. Billy and Chris would have put up a lot of points for the US.

    • Mat

      Oct 1, 2014 at 12:13 am

      Alex, when should the facts ever get in the way of “journalism”? This is why people don’t speak what they’re thinking. Context is liberally twisted to fit the narrative. GolfWRX and the author should print a correction here.

      • Alex

        Oct 1, 2014 at 1:54 am

        Unfortunately so.

        I’ve made plenty of mistakes myself, so I’m not going to place undue blame on anyone…it happens.

        However…this is why there are editors in place, to verify the premises and check the facts.

  25. west

    Sep 30, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    Oh, and it was Europe that did the bashing…not Phil.

  26. marcel

    Sep 30, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    basically what Phil says is -that Anzinger made everyone work hard and otherwise US team is just a bunch of rich kids that otherwise dont care unless you kicking their butts like Anzinger did in 2008…

  27. John Merrill

    Sep 30, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    It appears most didn’t bite on this journalist’s attempt to bait and create controversy. Phil just answered a direct question with a thought-provoking response. Some are thrown off by honest opinions, I guess? (Typical follow-up question to suggest it was a “brutal” assessment of Watson).
    I do think the Captain’s picks were pathetic. Even most of the qualifiers were not on-form in recent months. This needs to be addressed. That said, even with the best 12, there’s no guaranteed of a win. The competition is too close. Even this time, if the US wins one more match each day – different outcome.

  28. John

    Sep 30, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    I’m glad most respondents didn’t bite on this journalist’s attempt to create a controversy. Phil answered a direct question with his thought-provoking reply – nothing more. Typical press follow up to suggest it was a “brutal” attack on Watson. We did not have the best 12 golfers. We had poor choices for Captain’s picks, and the 9 qualifiers were not all playing their best. Still, even with the 12 best, there’s no guarantee of a US win. Just a better shot. If my math is correct, only one more US win each day would have made THE difference.

  29. RI_Redneck

    Sep 30, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    I don’t believe there was anything wrong with the strategy. The problem is with the performance of the players in the clutch moments. I saw some poor decisions made on each day by guys that KNOW BETTER.I don’t think Tom was the problem. I think we need several match play events on the PGA tour.


  30. Woff

    Sep 30, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    Sad, a lesson here for all. Golf is the game for integredy and win loose that must be maintained for the sake of the game. Phil’s comments should have been left to the debrief not in the main stream media immediately after the flogging where passions were raw on both sides. If Tom won he was a genius, loose and he’s a demon. Both men had jobs to do and all players have to live with their individual performances personally as we all do who play the great game, and maybe if they looked at their own effort the “team” may owe Tom some sort of apology. Tom did not hit a ball guys.

  31. 8thehardway

    Sep 30, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    “Both sides did their best, but if my guys had shot a little straighter… ”
    Gen. Custer’s graveside deconstruction of Little Big Horn

  32. Al385

    Sep 30, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    This is the type of journalism I hate because it’s always looking for the yellowish side of the news. This is National Enquirer quality.

    It could be Phil or anyone else. He was asked a question and he certainly answered the question about what happened in 2008 but the article only shows the twisted interpretation of the journalist.

    Please, GolfWRX must have a higher quality. Guys, you can do it much better than this.

  33. sqitis

    Sep 30, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    I really didn’t look at it as a bashing. Just a making a point and it’s ok to call someone out when they are wrong.

  34. BondJamesBond

    Sep 30, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    Phil & Major Tom would both have liked to get us out of the current situation – both were (are) frustrated for different reasons. My Suspicion PM (~80% losing record) – Watson Pride of USA and waning ability to produce/perform on the grand stage that is Pro Golf.

    Consider this from

    Comparison of the United States and Europe Between 1985-2012

    United Stat Europe
    Wins 4 9
    Tied 1 1
    Matches won 155 188
    Points won 184½ 207½
    Foursome points won 53½ 58½
    Four-ball points won 46½ 65½
    Single points won 84½ 83½

    Rookies record (US)72 wins, 84 losses, 27 halves
    (EUR)54 wins, 58 losses, 30 halves
    Captain’s Picks (US) 48 wins, 39 losses, 19 halves
    (EUR) 59 wins, 52 losses, 12 halves

    only categories we excel are singles (1 pt)& Captains picks. Period.
    Interesting to note the no. or fewer Rooks they play in the matches, even this year with Victor it was controlled and planned to a tee (obv to me anyhow)

    Anyone can run the nos. as I just did from site.
    If it’s picks then the is the captain, can’t see this any other way.
    Dennis Clark wrote an article yesterday which alluded to the population advantage of EUR vs. US. This is only inevitable – social economics to a certain degree (IMO) will sway the advantage to EUR.

    New code required – does not include the PGA of America IMO but this will never happen because of the $ oppty they’d forgoe. Got to connect PGA of America with PGA TOUR and get mainstream with these top players else we’ll get more of the same.

    I was front row at Kiawah on #18 when Langer missed the putt – best sporting event I’ve ever attended as a US fan – like nothing more than to see this again – BUT we’ve lost our way and must formulate an alternate strategy.

    my 2 cents…

  35. Shortgame85

    Sep 30, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    Ill timed questions by the media that are always to be expected. Their job is to provoke and stimulate the controversial copy that sells news and gossip rags. However, no matter how correct Phil may have been in the analysis in his response (and I think his analysis was correct), the timing of his response was poor. He could have chosen to give that response at a later time. Making those comments, he was sure to stimulate controversy, embarrass his team’s captain Tom Watson and provide additional coverage for himself. By his own admission, Phil is a very smart fellow, self aware of his comments and the effect they may have. I found the timing of his display of frustration, well founded as his frustration may be, to be in poor taste.

  36. fastfde

    Sep 30, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    I’m not a Mickelson fan but, I for one am glad to see a PGA Pro give his honest opinion about anything including his assessment of Captain Watson’s performance. Why can anybody else voice their opinion (fans, media, etc) but not the person who was in the arena – at least he earned the right to voice his opinion. Perhaps some would rather his voice take a “Leave of Absence”.

    • Fred

      Sep 30, 2014 at 7:10 pm

      One thing is for certain; changes need to be made in order for the U.S. to become competitive in the Ryder Cup. If it takes Phil going public to create the momentum for these changes to occur, then so be it. The fact of the matter is, the system is broken. I think as the days go on, you will begin to hear other players echo those thoughts expressed by Mickelson. Face it, when half of the European Ryder Cup team couldn’t even make the cut at the FedEx Championship, which was won by am American, then there’s a serious problem that needs to be addressed. If the U.S. team wins the Cup two years from now, I wouldn’t think it too far fetched to say that we can thanks Phil Mickelson for speaking up.

  37. Jason

    Sep 30, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    The captain certainly has something to do with how the team interacts, he can’t control the putts being made or missed but he has huge influence over team chemistry and it was clearly missing on the US side. Also don’t forget what a blow it was to the team not having Dustin Johnson and Jason Dufner in the mix.

    • jack from Omaha

      Sep 30, 2014 at 5:37 pm

      Rah, Rah for Phil.

      Phil’s comments at the press conference were right on!!! He had the brilliance to stir debate so that just maybe we’ll take this thing seriously, and not just pick “a good ole boy” to be the next captain.

  38. Dr. RosenRosen

    Sep 30, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    For those claiming that all blame should fall ONLY on the players, I ask why we have coaches in other sports? I would think that golf, moreso than almost any other sport given the importance of the mental game, would require a captain that is acutely attuned to the players’ strengths, attitudes, weaknesses, motivations, etc. A one-size fits all approach just doesn’t work.

    I like Tom Watson. That being said, it appears he did little to foster a TEAM. And although I can’t believe I agree with Phil, it appears Watson also did little to bring out the best in each player. Instead, his mantra and instruction was simply “play better.”

    No “great” coach – whether football, basketball, or little league baseball – would say his only job is picking the players for the team because “the players play.” The U.S. needs to think outside of the box and look for captains that are motivators and strategists, not just great former players.

  39. kroner

    Sep 30, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Herein lies the problem with the American team. It’s plainly obvious the Americans haven’t grasped the “team” concept. The accountablility on both the player’s and captain’s behalf were missing. Watson’s comments put the blame on the players, while a clearly frustrated Mickelson is looking towards his captain. This loss was a total team effort. Watson failed to put his players in situations they could play their best ie: Mickelson/Bradley over Spieth/Reed in Friday’s p.m. session and wearing out Fowler/Walker, while Mickelson’s Ryder Cup record does not befit a player of his caliber and seeing Back 9 leads evaporate from several players. Until the Americans check their egos and look in the mirror I’m afraid the infighting will keep Europe on top for many years to come.

  40. Jeff B

    Sep 30, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    I agree, I didn’t find what he said distasteful or bashing anyone at all.

  41. bm

    Sep 30, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Phil will be captain some day (like Tiger if he really wants it) so he can do it his way at that time. As for the win by Azinger, I think I have to give Faldo credit too.

  42. brian

    Sep 30, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    There was absolutely nothing wrong with the way Davis Love captained the Ryder Cup. In fact, he was up 10-6 going into Sunday that year. What was the excuse then for the singles matches? Davis Love didn’t hit a single shot, and he sure didn’t sit there and clap for Justin Rose as Rose was putting it to him.

    Crenshaw won, but not because of anything he did with his pairings. It comes down to golf professionals hitting golf balls. There is no formula. It was quite simple to see this year that the best golfers hit the better shots.

    • gplfing

      Sep 30, 2014 at 2:06 pm

      This is a team game, and like your cells wandering around, to build
      something (a win maybe!) a “team” structure is required by using a code….DNA.

  43. Timbleking

    Sep 30, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    Sorry for you, fellow american competitors, but perhaps we could discuss about the way he said that, but he was right. Should we give Tom Watson the full respect he deserves for what he did as a player, he has been a real bad captain. There is a moment where USGA or whoever decides to whom they will grant the captaincy, has to understand that you need competencies in that role, and being a legend of the past in the game is not a guarantee for competencies as a captain. My 2 cents.

  44. ron

    Sep 30, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    I still don’t see what all this fuss over his comments is all about. It’s not like he called out Tom Watson specifically. He said the formula of 2008 (which happend to have given the US the win) was not copied in subsequest years…period. Watson did not coach every tean sisnce 2008. Yes it calls into qquestions selection process and strategy but this is being grossly sensationalized in my opinion.

  45. gplfing

    Sep 30, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    For sure Phil is or has a ton of experience handling this pressers or tom´s, he would have is opinion, and as usual say nothing, but see the
    situation he was on:

    5 years ago the then young Hunter was crushed by it and until this day
    he pays the price (just see the same shoot affected his head) until that
    moment he gave all.
    Again 5 years an Mr. Watson saying “some players just don’t deliver” WTF
    is this…. Phil just stepped up.

  46. ClubChump

    Sep 30, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    The captain doesn’t play! I can’t stress that enough. Pods’s or a group of 12 or whatever excuse you want to discuss the bottom line is the Americans lost. The Euro’s played better. If the USA wants to win the formula is simple. GET BETTER

    • Timbleking

      Sep 30, 2014 at 1:57 pm

      And pay them…^^

      • Jeremy

        Sep 30, 2014 at 2:32 pm

        Couldn’t disagree more. These guys make plenty. The idea that they need to be paid a little more to bother competing in a competition that is one of the most exciting in the sport (when it’s not a blowout) is offensive.

        • Bluefan75

          Oct 1, 2014 at 10:01 am

          So everyone else should get to make a boatload off of them? Did you tune into see the players play, or to see Ted Bishop?

    • RobCH

      Oct 2, 2014 at 11:42 am

      Is your real name Tom Watson..?

  47. Scooter McGavin

    Sep 30, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Where was the “bashing” that was promised in the title? I read the whole transcript and found none.

  48. Kevin

    Sep 30, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    The modern age of media, ask someone a question, go crazy when the response is not politically correct. And then the media wonders why athletes give vanilla cliches as answers over and over. The problem was that Tom Watson was not the right man for the job. The Europeans have great chemistry amongst themselves and with their captains. Phil was describing how Azinger better facilitated team chemistry. Tom Watson is old school, roll the ball out on the court and let them get after it. Could it have hurt Tom Watson’s feelings? Yes, but that team had lots of blame to go around for its failures.

  49. by the way

    Sep 30, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    Listen again Ben. The question was directed to “Phil and anyone else who…” – Phil didn’t jump at anything.

    • Bob Tosh

      Sep 30, 2014 at 12:45 pm


      Ben, why on earth would you go out of your way to Note: “(note: he jumped at the chance to answer a question posed to his entire team).”

      when that is 100% clearly not accurate. Why would you deliberately not only leave that part out BUT add in your little “Note”?

      That alone is what’s wrong with “journalism” today. Editing facts, to suit your own needs and agenda.

  50. Crisis Calls

    Sep 30, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    McGinley’s strategy for dummies: Our 12 is better than theirs. No matter what happens, don’t give up or stop fighting. In the end, we (Europe) will prevail!

    If US maintains a system which fails to identify best form, we will continue to lose. Look at the cards of our so-called top players. Cannot win if you cannot putt!

  51. Ty

    Sep 30, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    Don’t see any controversy in Phil’s answer to the first question. It was a legit question, and regardless of whether Phil “jumped at the chance” to answer or not, it was an honest answer to a reasonable question. HOWEVER…the second question was easily as disrespectful to Tom Watson as Phil’s answer, and was, at least to me, an obvious attempt to bait Phil into saying something controversial. While I believe Phil could/should have paused and gone the route of a more respectful and thoughtful answer, anyone who follows golf knows that if you ask Phil a question, you’re going to get an answer that reflects what he honestly thinks, not necessarily an answer that is politically correct. In this case, Phil should have answered differently, but just as much so, the interviewer should have either phrased the second question differently or skipped it altogether.

    As much to the point though, had the US team played better, we wouldn’t even be discussing this. One point total in 8 foursomes matches isn’t a reflection on anything the captain did…that’s on the players. I think it was Monty that on Sunday said if the US team were made up of 12 Patrick Reeds, they wouldn’t have been down 10-6. If that team was made up of players with as much fire and pride as Reed, what the captain did or didn’t do wouldn’t have mattered and we would be celebrating now instead of wondering what keeps going wrong.

  52. Seth Mischke

    Sep 30, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Plain and simple, if YOU as an athlete representing your country can’t get fired up and excited or “invested” on your own without the captain, vice captain, teammates, or mommy and daddy’s help then you shouldn’t fricking be on the team. Blows my mind! Tom wasn’t bashing anyone’s abilities, he was making decisions based on his experience and gut, right or wrong. He certainly didn’t coach the US to the loss, the thing was up for grabs until Saturday afternoon’s matches. The end point to all of this is play better than your opponent. Any twosome has a chance to beat any twosome during any format, these guys are all world class golfers and human.

    Now, certainly there are things the US can do better, I do like Azinger’s business approach copy of the European process for Captains and Vice Captains. Consistency is usually a good thing in golf. Lick the wounds, move the frick on and do something about it.

    • RobCH

      Oct 2, 2014 at 11:45 am

      Coached a lot of elite athletes, have you?

  53. West

    Sep 30, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    Europe cares more and wants to win more…at every level, from the captain, to the players.

  54. Steve

    Sep 30, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    GOLF wrx – why is the text app so slow?

  55. Greg Hunter

    Sep 30, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    I heard nothing wrong with what he said. Although it boils down to the players, you still need a strategy to put players in the best position to succeed

  56. Crisis Calls

    Sep 30, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    Phil quickly placed blame for the loss on Watson, without mentioning his inferior play or that of the other US golfers. Such blame is what it is, an obfuscation of the truth: Players win or lose Ryder Cups, not captains!

    • Yoshida

      Sep 30, 2014 at 2:36 pm

      Absolutely False statement. Captains shape the team with picks, formats, course setup and team atmosphere. The problem doesn’t lie just in Watsons old school approach. The USA needs overhaul the way the Ryder Cup is approached and played. As Kurt Russell said in the movie Miracle, “gentleman, you do not have enough talent to win on talent alone.” USA no longer has the talent advantage once afforded in the past, the future rests in USA ability to adapt and change.

  57. richard

    Sep 30, 2014 at 11:57 am

    I have loved Phil over the years, and although I may agree with most if not all of what he said, I do believe the comments were ill timed and inappropriate. Where were the congratulations to the Euros who had just stomped all over the Americans? Where was the respect for a captain with 8 major championships? All Phil did was decide to hammer home some points that he believes in without regard to the fallout or to the disrespect for Watson. Bad form Phil, should have let the dust settle for a while and tipped your hat to the Euros before going on the attack.

  58. T-MAC

    Sep 30, 2014 at 11:50 am

    Once again, it’s the media trying to make a big deal out of nothing and/or start controversy. It’s what they do.
    The American’s got out played. Could the US Team have made it closer if Watson would have made a few different choices? maybe. But the bottom line is, the US got outplayed. Period.

  59. GolfIsHard

    Sep 30, 2014 at 11:49 am

    Phil could have made the same point just as effectively without being disrespectful to his Captain.

    He also could have given the Europeans some credit for their Win, it’s not as much about what the Americans did wrong but about what Europe did right.

    • RobCH

      Oct 2, 2014 at 11:47 am

      He answered the question put to him, which referred back to 2008.

  60. JoeC

    Sep 30, 2014 at 11:45 am

    It is amazing, really. The media and fans want athletes to be transparent and not give canned answers and then the media goes and blasts Phil for doing just that.
    Don’t think for one minute that athletes everywhere don’t use this as a lesson. Sure, some will be open and honest but don’t expect those you pistol whip to give you any time.

    • Zak

      Sep 30, 2014 at 12:06 pm

      Agreed!!!! He answered the questions that were asked! He could have really roasted Watson if he wanted to and took the high road in my opinion.

  61. Franksail

    Sep 30, 2014 at 11:44 am

    Good for Phil to express a counterpoint to Watsons position it is all about the players playing- lots of issues around why the US lost but lets move on – and while moving on lets get off the kick the Ryder Cup is “fashion week” in golf. Pods may not be the answer but red pants for sure don’t work let alone all the other non golf looking stuff these players had to wear. Watson – Polo great if your a horse but not so good if you actually play golf !

    • Steve

      Sep 30, 2014 at 12:14 pm

      Another Point. His POD was KIM and a few better players. I think the best team won this last week. Sorry – just my opinion.

      It does also matter that Dustin Johnson surely would have been on the team and Keegan Not. Keegan was a bad PICK. Interesting to find out who PHIL would have PICKED if he were in Watson’s position. He would have to do what is best. I wonder if the chance is coming closer to a Player Captain. I think that is best. If the Captain is also competing he will then have 4 vice Captains playing with him and making team decisions.

      Watson is right – he has a different Management Style. The styles have definitely changed after 2008 with what Azinger did with the team. Azinger is one of my favorite players of all time regardless of his Ryder Cup experience. The fact that he has holed Bunker shots to win championships makes him a really strong Player when it is clutch time. I think that helps in identifying the traits and abilities that work best in Match Play.

  62. Don

    Sep 30, 2014 at 11:40 am

    I wonder about Azinger’s winning formula for Ryder Cup. Sometimes it is not a case of winning as it is a case of losing. So far I have not heard much regarding Faldo’s losing formula. Given his comments regarding Garcia I am wondering what the members of that team thought of him?

  63. Mike Belkin

    Sep 30, 2014 at 11:11 am

    I absolutely love the fact that Phil just says things how they are. I feel the same way about Rory and his honest answers of questions too.

  64. Philip

    Sep 30, 2014 at 11:07 am

    This is crazy. Talk about making sh$t out of nothing. He was asked a very specific question which he answered quite clearly and related it to the last three Ryder Cups of which Tom Watson had nothing to do with two of them.

    What was out of line and amounting to bashing was the response

    “Q. That felt like a pretty brutal destruction of the leadership that’s gone on this week.”

    which is a poor attempt of sensationalizing to create hearsay, and unfortunately it apparently worked. It is like everyone is on edge hoping for crap like this.

    He talked about 2008 not Tom Watson.

    • Philip

      Sep 30, 2014 at 11:08 am

      Four Ryder Cups of which Tom Watson had nothing to do with three of them.

    • kloyd0306

      Sep 30, 2014 at 9:40 pm

      You’ve nailed it!

      Phil’s refreshing honesty criticized the 2010, 2012 and 2014 failures.

      As usual, the press needs a story and often makes more of a statement than is necessary – just to justify their existence.

      Not being able to include two or three hot players (Hoershel, Kirk and Todd) harmed their effort. The rookies (Speith, Walker and Reed) showed what passion was missing.

      Simpson was a poor choice, as was Bradley. Bubba is not tough enough for this stuff.

      Tom Watson showed he is out of touch, especially after standing down the Reed/Speith partnership for the alternate shot format on day one.

      • RobCH

        Oct 2, 2014 at 11:50 am

        I agree. However, I don’t believe any captain would have gone with six rookies.

  65. John Flavia

    Sep 30, 2014 at 11:05 am

    Here’s a transcript of what Phil said below. Seems like the guy asking questions tried to frame it in a way with question #2, in making this into a controversy by inserting “brutal destruction of the leadership this week” that was carried by everyone else afterwards to direct heat on Phil for his comments.

    Imagine if the scribe asking the questions said “Phil felt an alternative approach may have worked better (which is exactly what he described)”, do you think there would have been the same backlash? Colin, Nick, Chamblee, etc., all quick to jump on Phil because the scribe said “brutal destruction of the leadership this week” and it was continued as “Phil taking shots at Tom Watson”. All it takes is one guy to describe it one way or another (‘attack’ vs. suggesting different approach) for everyone else to hop on the bandwagon….they all took the bait.
    Q. Anyone that was on the team at Valhalla, can you put your finger on what worked in 2008 and what hasn’t worked since?

    PHIL MICKELSON: There were two things that allow us to play our best I think that Paul Azinger did, and one was he got everybody invested in the process. He got everybody invested in who they were going to play with, who the picks were going to be, who was going to be in their pod, who — when they would play, and they had a great leader for each pod. In my case, we had Ray Floyd, and we hung out together and we were all invested in each other’s play. We were invested in picking Hunter that week; Anthony Kim and myself and Justin were in a pod, and we were involved on having Hunter be our guy to fill our pod. So we were invested in the process. And the other thing that Paul did really well was he had a great game plan for us, you know, how we were going to go about doing this. How we were going to go about playing together; golf ball, format, what we were going to do, if so-and-so is playing well, if so-and-so is not playing well, we had a real game plan. Those two things helped us bring out our best golf. And I think that, you know, we all do the best that we can and we’re all trying our hardest, and I’m just looking back at what gave us the most success. Because we use that same process in The Presidents Cup and we do really well. Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best.

    Q. That felt like a pretty brutal destruction of the leadership that’s gone on this week.

    PHIL MICKELSON: Oh, I’m sorry you’re taking it that way. I’m just talking about what Paul Azinger did to help us play our best. It’s certainly — I don’t understand why you would take it that way. You asked me what I thought we should do going toward to bring our best golf out and I go back to when we played our best golf and try to replicate that formula.

    Q. That didn’t happen this week?
    PHIL MICKELSON: Uh (pausing) no. No, nobody here was in any decision. So, no.

    • Philip

      Sep 30, 2014 at 11:24 am

      Unfortunately it appears that a large portion of the world has forgotten or never learned how to read. It has never been easier to manipulate “fools” people.

      • Disappointed reader

        Sep 30, 2014 at 3:03 pm

        The thing that is more disturbing is complete lack of writing ability by everyone covering this non-story. He was asked a specific question and he answered it. Phil was not rude and did not bash anyone. This article is embarrassing. It is all about the clicks for pennies.

        • RyderFan

          Oct 1, 2014 at 12:01 pm

          Tough to give any credibility to a writer when you spend 30 seconds trying to figure out what a “lede” is.

    • Desmond

      Sep 30, 2014 at 3:01 pm

      I’m okay with most of Phil’s comments. When the reporter asked whether “that” happened this week, he should have bowed out by saying “Our Captain took a different approach this week, and that is all I want to say.”

      I think it took leadership for Phil to speak up, and leadership is not always pretty … mistakes are made because we’re human. But Phil opened the doors to a full discussion.

      Watson named a team but he did not form a team.

      You do not take 12 millionaires with similar skills and talents, and as Captain, tell them what to do. The Captain is himself a colleague. In this instance, a participatory leadership style is necessary.

      Watson’s dictatorial style works with 14 yr olds, the military, and in emergencies, but not in the Ryder Cup.

  66. ams165

    Sep 30, 2014 at 10:58 am

    USA got outplayed by the Euro’s.

    In my opinion it has nothing to do with the Captain.

    This is professional golf not tee ball.

    The US crybabies are trying to find someone to blame and that person is Billy Martin, I mean Tom Watson.

    So with that logic all the missed 2-4 footers and bad shots were Tom Watson fault???

    I call shenanigans.

    Sorry Team Phil your reaching.

    • Yoshida

      Sep 30, 2014 at 2:03 pm

      This has absolutely everything to do with the captain. Tom Watson played in an era where USA players were so far superior that Captaincy was an honorary position and playing the hot players were all that was needed to win. Europe is far more competive the last 15 years and if the USA is going to be competitive a complete overhaul of the way the Ryder Cup is approached, players are selected, and players are paired together. Azingers approach was a step in the right direction but after watching the foursomes matches the USA clearly did not have the right players for this format. USA needs a “moneyball” approach. Maybe more captains picks so the RIGHT players are on the team, not the best according to the world ranking. Herb Brooks approach to the 1980 Olympics for USA hockey was nearly 25 years ago and USA golf has still not embraced that lesson for the Ryder Cup. I’m not saying the USA will never lose if the process is overhauled because Europe played great, I’m saying the USA will never have a chance to win.

    • ada

      Oct 6, 2014 at 11:38 am

      Maybe the Euros are just better players. They’ve got 4 of the last 5 US Open champions, plus a recent Fedex Cup winner (Stenson), a Ryder Cup stud in Poulter, and world #3. How are you gonna’ beat that, even if you had a hot Horschel and Kirk?

      Let’s face it: Europe’s best golfers are better than America’s best.

  67. Captain Obvious

    Sep 30, 2014 at 10:56 am

    Needed to be said, maybe not the appropriate time, but something has got to change in the picking of captains and players. The captains are not playing, but they have to get the players fired up and involved in the Ryder Cup. The players have got to have heart and want to play. Europe has had the right formula for a while and the US has got to get it. Europe has just played better.

  68. Matt

    Sep 30, 2014 at 10:41 am

    I have no problem with his comments. He answered a direct question with his opinion, and let’s be honest, got the much needed discussion started on how to change our Ryder Cup strategy.

    Tom Watson is a golf legend. Phil’s comments, nor Watson’s poor performance at Gleneagles, could ever change that.

  69. BigBoy

    Sep 30, 2014 at 10:38 am

    So he spoke the truth, you americans don’t like the truth????

    • Dpavs

      Sep 30, 2014 at 11:48 am

      Most of us do, but the media here like abroad loves to twist things and there will always be a certain percentage of people who will bite on that kind of bait.

    • dtkb82

      Sep 30, 2014 at 4:49 pm

      doesn’t mean you have to go public with your comments. Win as 12 lose as 12.

      When you win say very little. When you lose say even less

      • Joe duffer

        Sep 30, 2014 at 10:49 pm

        “doesn’t mean you have to go public with your comments. Win as 12 lose as 12.
        When you win say very little. When you lose say even less”

        This is the best post of all of them! That is exactly what should have taken place shut up and go home and maybe give the Euros the congrats they deserved!

        • Dpavs

          Oct 1, 2014 at 7:50 am

          When things need to change do you really think putting your head in the sand and ignoring what you feel is wrong helps anything?
          Besides he was asked point blank what he thought and he gave an honest answer… and in doing so he indicated what he felt was right about the 2008 cup team and what he felt has been missing ever since. If someone takes that personally perhaps that says more about them than it does about Phil.

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Opinion & Analysis

Slow play is all about the numbers



If you gather round, children, I’ll let you in on a secret: slow play is all about the numbers. Which numbers? The competitive ones. If you compete at golf, no matter the level, you care about the numbers you post for a hole, a round, or an entire tournament. Those numbers cause you to care about the prize at the end of the competition, be it a handshake, $$$$, a trophy, or some other bauble. Multiply the amount that you care, times the number of golfers in your group, your flight, the tournament, and the slowness of golf increases by that exponent.

That’s it. You don’t have to read any farther to understand the premise of this opinion piece. If you continue, though, I promise to share a nice anecdotal story about a round of golf I played recently—a round of golf on a packed golf course, that took a twosome exactly three hours and 10 minutes to complete, holing all putts.

I teach and coach at a Buffalo-area high school. One of my former golfers, in town for a few August days, asked if we could play the Grover Cleveland Golf Course while he was about. Grover is a special place for me: I grew up sneaking on during the 1970s. It hosted the 1912 U.S. Open when it was the Country Club of Buffalo. I returned to play it with Tom Coyne this spring, becoming a member of #CitizensOfACCA in the process.

Since my former golfer’s name is Alex, we’ll call him Alex, to avoid confusion. Alex and I teed off at 1:30 on a busy, sunny Wednesday afternoon in August. Ahead of us were a few foursomes; behind us, a few more. There may have been money games in either place, or Directors’ Cup matches, but to us, it was no matter. We teed it high and let it fly. I caught up on Alex’ four years in college, and his plans for the upcoming year. I shared with him the comings and goings of life at school, which teachers had left since his graduation, and how many classrooms had new occupants. It was barroom stuff, picnic-table conversation, water-cooler gossip. Nothing of dense matter nor substance, but pertinent and enjoyable, all the same.

To the golf. Neither one of us looked at the other for permission to hit. Whoever was away, at any given moment, mattered not a bit. He hit and I hit, sometimes simultaneously, sometimes within an instant of the other. We reached the putting surface and we putted. Same pattern, same patter. Since my high school golfers will need to choose flagstick in or out this year, we putted with it in. Only once did it impact our roll: a pounded putt’s pace was slowed by the metal shaft. Score one for Bryson and the flagstick-in premise!

Grover tips out around 5,600 yards. After the U.S. Open and the US Public Links were contested there, a healthy portion of land was given away to the Veteran’s Administration, and sorely-needed hospital was constructed at the confluence of Bailey, Lebrun, and Winspear Avenues. It’s an interesting track, as it now and forever is the only course to have hosted both the Open and the Publinx; since the latter no longer exists, this fact won’t change. It remains the only course to have played a par-6 hole in U.S. Open competition. 480 of those 620 yards still remain, the eighth hole along Bailey Avenue. It’s not a long course, it doesn’t have unmanageable water hazards (unless it rains a lot, and the blocked aquifer backs up) and the bunkering is not, in the least, intimidating.

Here’s the rub: Alex and I both shot 75 or better. We’re not certain what we shot, because we weren’t concerned with score. We were out for a day of reminiscence, camaraderie, and recreation. We golfed our balls, as they say in some environs, for the sheer delight of golfing our balls. Alex is tall, and hits this beautiful, high draw that scrapes the belly of the clouds. I hit what my golfing buddies call a power push. It gets out there a surprising distance, but in no way mimics Alex’ trace. We have the entire course covered, from left to right and back again.

On the 14th tee, I checked my phone and it was 3:40. I commented, “Holy smokes, we are at two hours for 13 holes.” We neither quickened nor slowed our pace. We tapped in on 18, right around 4:40, and shook hands. I know what he’s been up to. He understands why I still have a day job, and 18 holes of golf were played—because we both cared and didn’t care.

There you have it, children. Off with you, now. To the golf course. Play like you don’t care.

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Opinion & Analysis

Golfers: Go easy on yourselves!



Heres a fact for you: nearly half of all golfers will never break 100, according to the National Golf Foundation. Less than that will ever break 90, and only five percent will ever break 80. Golf is not an easy game, so you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it. Period.

I’m not here to go all Zen golf on you; I can only speak from personal experience, but the moment you accept that, regardless of your ability to score, you can have a lot of fun, the more you will truly enjoy the game of golf.

When I first learned to play, like many, I was not very good. Everyone I played with was way better than me, and although I don’t remember a lot of those early rounds, I can remember moments of feeling embarrassed for my play. It wasn’t because of the people I was playing with, they were all very helpful and patient, but for some reason, I knew that I was not helping the group. It is those memories that allow me to make sure no matter who I play with now, I make them feel welcome on the course and help them any chance I can.

We all started somewhere, and regardless of how many rounds we have played or how low our handicaps have gotten, we need to be accepting that anyone that takes the time to try and play golf should be afforded the opportunity to learn and enjoy the game.

Even with my current level of play, the insecurities of being a newbie creep in from time to time, I never want to feel like I am the reason my group is being slow—although I must admit that with my normal pace of play that’s not usually an issue. I played a round very earlier in the year during a trip to Florida where I was paired with what I would call very regular golfers, players who generally break 100, but struggle with aspects of their game. Even then, just like when I was 10 years old, I was having a hard time out of a bunker one the second hole and after blading one into the pond on my second attempt (give me a break, it was my first round in four months), I just walked to the green, tended the flag, and told them I’d take my ESC (equitable stroke control) number for the hole. Thas describes my golf game, and I’m OK with that.

Too many golfers get caught up in how the pros play—from the tips, bombing drivers, expecting to make six birdies a round. Players on the PGA Tour are like the aliens from Space Jam (I just seriously dated myself) the Monstars. They have every skill imaginable, and get to do this for a living—you better believe they are going to be good at it. There is NO reason as a 10-15 handicap you should be slamming clubs and stomping your feet for missing a green from 150 yards. It’s just part of the game. Heck, even Rory McIlroy misses greens from time to time. Do you ever hit it like Rory?

Expectations are part of the human ego, and if we don’t manage them properly, we will always feel like we are inadequate. In reality, we should approach every challenge (even something as simple as golf) with the idea that today I have the opportunity to be great, but there is also the equal chance I will fail. We learn from failure, we improve after failure, and it’s not something we should be scared of.

No matter your score, make it fun, enjoy the day, embrace the challenge. Your expectations can make or break what to take from every round of golf you play, and if you think for a second this is the worst golf ever played—trust me it’s not. It’s just one round of many bad rounds played every day, and the next round is your next challenge. Honestly, you’re not as bad as you think you are.

Go easy on yourself. Golf is a lot more enjoyable that way.

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TG2: LPGA Tour caddie Chris McCalmont



LPGA Tour caddie Chris McCalmont joins us to talk about his 12-year career as a caddie. How volatile the job market is, the money they make, and what he loves about caddying. Chris also makes some interesting comments on slow play and what can, and cannot, be done about it.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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19th Hole