THE head of America’s PGA has revealed that Phil Mickelson turned down the chance to make his feelings known to Tom Watson about Paul Azinger’s ‘pod system’ long before last week’s Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
Ted Bishop, PGA president and the man who was behind Watson returning to captain the United States after a 21-year absence, told The Scotsman that Mickelson had raised the subject with him in Aberdeen back in July.
“I was not surprised by Phil’s comments on Sunday night,” said Bishop, after Mickelson openly criticised Watson’s captaincy as the five-times Open champion sat a few feet away at a press conference.
“He shared those same sentiments when we played in the Scottish Open Pro-Am in July. At that time, I suggested he convey his thoughts to Tom, but obviously he didn’t until Sunday night and the timing of that was unfortunate.”
Mickelson praised Azinger’s system of splitting players into groups of four and assigning a vice-captain to look after them when the Americans won at Valhalla in 2008 – but he seemed far from impressed with Watson’s captaincy as the visitors lost at Gleneagles.
“No doubt Phil was not happy about sitting out on Saturday because he is a great competitor,” added Bishop. “Phil Mickelson will be a force in Ryder Cups to come and no doubt a captain someday.”
Bishop, who is due to step down soon, also hinted that the Americans will need to look at changing the timing of their team being finalised to avoid the situation that saw two on-form players, Billy Horschel and Chris Kirk, miss out on the match in Perthshire.
He said: “The PGA of America has to take a serious look at how we pick Ryder Cup players and the timing of the announcements. We have to have the best players on the team.
“That being said, Tom Watson was a great choice as a captain. He did the best with the situation and I found Tom to be organised and very much in touch with what he thought it took to win.
“I tip my hat to the Europeans because they clearly won this competition on the golf course with their outstanding play.”