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Mickelson slammed for 'incendiary' comments

Phil Mickelson said US captain Top Watson strayed from a winning formula for the past three years.

Phil Mickelson. Picture: AFP.

GLENEAGLES - Phil Mickelson's scathing criticism of United States Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson sparked a firestorm of reaction with former European skippers Colin Montgomerie and Nick Faldo saying the American was out of line.

Former PGA Tour player Brandel Chamblee, who now works as a golf analyst for Golf Channel, went even further, describing Mickelson as a golfer who had "corrupted the experience of the Ryder Cup".

Shortly after the US had slipped to yet another Ryder Cup defeat by Europe on Sunday, Mickelson told a news conference his captain had not engaged with the players and should have stuck with the system that worked so successfully in 2008.

MICKELSON'S COMMENTS

"There were two things that allowed us to play our best that Paul Azinger did. First, 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', when they would play, and they had a great leader for each pod. We hung out together.

"The other thing that Paul did really well was he had a great game-plan for us - how we were going to go about doing this, how we were going to go about playing together, if so-and-so is playing well, if so-and-so is not playing well.

"Those two things helped us bring out our best golf. We use that same process in the Presidents Cup, and we do really well. Unfortunately we have strayed from a winning formula for the last three Ryder Cups and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best."

REACTION

Both Montgomerie and Faldo responded by saying that Mickelson, a former world number two, should have kept his thoughts to himself.

"Should we go into this one hour after we've been defeated? The answer is a flat no," Montgomerie, who captained Europe to Ryder Cup victory at Celtic Manor in 2010, said on Golf Channel.

"You support your captain under all circumstances. In public, you respect and honour your captain.

"The PGA of America selected Tom Watson as the best choice to try to win the Ryder Cup back. Unfortunately, the team didn't perform for Tom."

Faldo, a losing Ryder Cup captain at Valhalla in 2008 when his American counterpart, Azinger, achieved success with his "pod" system of four groups of three players who practised and played together, agreed.

"That should have been a private conversation," said Faldo. "Phil certainly doesn't respected Watson. He threw his captain right under the bus."

Montgomerie implied that the importance of the captain at a Ryder Cup was overrated.

"The Europeans happened to play better at Gleneagles, it's as simple as that," said Montgomerie.

"I think Tom Watson did the best with what he had. It doesn't matter who captains a team really. It's up to the players to bring back those points."

FRUSTRATED FIGURE

Chamblee immediately piled the criticism upon Mickelson.

"That was as close to a one-man mutiny as I ever seen," Chamblee said on Golf Channel. "I think that's a moment that Phil would like to have back.

"If you are looking for a reason why the United States continues to lose, you just saw it, you saw it in one man -- Phil Mickelson.

"Phil Mickelson, along with the best players of that era, have so corrupted the experience of the Ryder Cup for their fellow competitors by not having records anywhere near what they should, given their rank in the game and what they've achieved."

Mickelson, a five-time major champion, now has a win-loss-half record of 16-19-6 from his 10 Ryder Cups.

"Players of an era who are the best go to the Ryder Cup and show off, not goof off," said Chamblee.

"Phil Mickelson in 2004 changed clubs at the Ryder Cup, the week of, and the day before he went to practise at another golf course.

"This is yet another example of Americans not coming together as a team."

Montgomerie wondered why Mickelson had been the only player on the 12-man US team who did not travel on the chartered jet to Scotland last week.

"I have a big problem with that," Montgomerie said.

"The team should fly as a 12. We have to start out as we want to finish, as a team."