Thursday, September 29, 2016

Mickelson apologizes to Sutton for 2004 Ryder Cup criticism

CHASKA, Minn. — Phil Mickelson apologized to 2004 U.S. Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton on Thursday for comments he made the day prior that laid blame for the failure of Mickelson’s ill-fated partnership with Tiger Woods when Sutton led the team.

Mickelson explained Wednesday why he thought the duo of the then world Nos. 1 and 2 lost in both matches that Friday near Detroit. Mickelson laid the blame at Sutton’s feet for the losses, saying he wasn’t given enough notice — just 2 days — to prepare to use Woods’ ball in their foursomes match. He then said the distraction with the ball took him off his game.

Sutton, who was on site as an invited guest of current captain Davis Love III, fired back at Mickelson on Wednesday afternoon after hearing the comments.

“The thing the Ryder Cup doesn’t need is drama. It creates enough drama on its own. Phil created a lot of drama that week, if we remember, because he switched his clubs and his ball prior to that week,” Sutton said, according to multiple reports.

“It was very self-serving for him to do that prior to the Ryder Cup in 2004. So, if he needs me to shoulder the blame for his poor play, I can do that.”

Mickelson, who left out in his retelling that he had just switched to new equipment ahead of the Ryder Cup and practiced off-site one day that week, felt blowback not only from Sutton but from pockets of golf that saw Mickelson again criticizing an American captain. Mickelson’s public admonishment of 2014 captain Tom Watson led to the creation of the Ryder Cup Task Force and set into motion the second-chance captaincy of Love.

“I was totally in the wrong,” Mickelson said, according to Golf Channel. “I never should have brought that up. I used an extreme example the way decisions can affect play, and I never should have done that because it affected Hal.”

Sutton reportedly threatened to leave Hazeltine National in response and did, only to return for a former captain’s match Thursday. Mickelson’s apology, in part, is an effort to smooth over the verbal boxing match, hoping Sutton will still feel welcome in the American team room.


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