Although the Ryder Cup ended last Sunday, captain Tom Watson is still taking shots for his performance and Phil Mickleson is still taking heat for his comments criticising Watson at the team press conference.
Truthfully, there are a lot of things in golf that are hard to predict. Nobody thought Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth would do as well as they did, and I am sure no-one thought team USA would combine for only one full point in the afternoon foursomes. In the end, you just never know in golf.
There are few things that one can actually control. But one decision that should be carefully considered in future Ryder Cups revolves around Mickleson and how he is paired up, especially in the afternoon alternate shot matches.
In the 2014 Ryder Cup and in previous versions, captains get this wild idea about pairing Mickleson and his aggressive game with players of the same nature. In the three Ryder Cups preceding this one, Mickleson has been paired with the likes of Keegan Bradley, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson and Anthony Kim.
Sure there has been some success, but the gameplan has never made any sense and usually seems to be formed off some crazy hunch. Mickleson’s tee ball has always been wild and he likes to take the driver out on every hole. His last few seasons on tour have been all over the board.
His play and tournament finishes will be mediocre, and then somehow he will win a major. Or he will win a major and then play mediocre. After a second place finish in this year’s PGA Championship, he played awful in the playoffs finishing 78th in the Barclays and 45th in the Deutsche Bank Championship.
His yearly statistics match up with his game. His rounds are occupied by eagles, birdies, bogies and double bogies. As European players testified all throughout the Ryder Cup, you win foursome matches by making pars and Mickleson’s game has never been about making pars.
Chances are we will see Phil in a few more Ryder Cups. If future captains plan to place him in foursome matches, which I am sure they will want to, they need to make sure his playing partner is someone with an even tempered game who can keep the ball straight off the tee.
It would have been smart to send him out Friday afternoon with a Jim Furyk, or maybe a Matt Kuchar, players who have a more calm and collected game. As mentioned earlier, it is hard to control anything in the Ryder Cup, but US captains must do a better job managing long-time asset Mickleson.