Ryder Cup 2014: Phil Mickelson blames Tom Watson for defeat in outspoken attack on his leadership

Phil Mickelson said no players were consulted over decisions and compared Watson's leadership to that of 2008 captain Paul Azinger

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The Independent Online

While Paul McGinley and his triumphant Europeans were spraying the champagne, the beaten Americans were in open revolt after a sixth defeat in seven Ryder Cup contests.

In an astonishing outburst in front of the whole United States team, the most senior player, Phil Mickelson, criticised the management style and strategy of his captain Tom Watson, claiming the team should return to the tactics employed by Paul Azinger in 2008, the last time they won.

“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, in who they were going to play with, who the picks were going to be, who was going to be in their pod.

“And the other thing that Paul did really well was he had a great game plan, how we were going to go about playing together; golf ball, format, what we were going to do. Those two things helped us bring out our best golf. “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.” Asked if the players had any involvement in the decision making, Mickelson said: “No, nobody here was in any decision. So, no.”

Watson defended his methods and said the players were just not good enough. “He has a difference of opinion. That’s OK,” Watson said of Mickelson. “My management philosophy is different than his. I had a different philosophy as far as being a captain of this team.

“It takes 12 players to win. It’s not pods. It’s 12 players. I did talk to the players, but my vice-captains were very instrumental in making decisions as to whom to pair with. I had a different philosophy than Paul. I decided not to go that way.

“But I did have most of them play in the practice rounds together who played most of the time in the matches. I think that was the proper thing to do. Yes, I did mix and match a little bit from there, but again, you have to go with the evolution of the playing of the match and see who is playing the best.

“The bottom line is they kicked our butts. They were better players this week. We had a chance today. We started off, got almost everything in the red. Then they turned it on us, and that’s what champions are made of.”

McGinley was oblivious to the schism dividing his beaten opponents. “I’m sorry to hear that. But I’m not privy to the American template and how they set up their teams.”

Tom Watson looks rueful as he watches his American team struggle at Gleneagles

Rory McIlroy, who joked that all this winning might be bad for his health, led the tributes to McGinley. “I played for Paul at the Seve Trophy in 2009. I knew he would be a great Ryder Cup captain. I can’t speak highly enough of the job he did here. From the videos, the imagery in the team room and the people he brought into to speak to us, he left no stone unturned.”