Mickelson apologises to Sutton
Photo Source: AP
Phil Mickelson has apologised to former US Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton following criticism of his leadership in 2004.
The five-time major winner, when asked about the importance of captains, used the example of Sutton's decision to pair him with Tigers Woods on the opening day at Oakland Hills when they lost both matches and never played together again.
"We were told two days before that we were playing together and that gave us no time to work together and prepare," Mickelson said on Wednesday.
"That's an example of starting with the captain that put us in a position to fail and we failed monumentally, absolutely."
Mickelson has been highly critical of Tom Watson, captain at Gleneagles two years ago, but this was the first time he had turned on another captain.
However, 24 hours after making those comments the left-hander moved to clarify his remarks and has apologised to Sutton.
"I've communicated with him," Mickelson, who admitted his words were "in bad taste" and "came across like it was a personal attack and I didn't mean it that way", told the Golf Channel.
"I feel awful. It was never meant to be like that. I was trying to use an example of how a captain can have a strong effect. Unfortunately, it came across the way it did.
"I was totally in the wrong. 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, who presided over a record 18.5- 9.5 defeat, responded to Mickelson's comments with disappointment and an air of resignation.
"Nothing surprises me in the world we live in today," he told Golfweek before receiving his apology from the left-hander.
"I don't think I can win by saying anything. I mean, my God, somebody's got to be the fall guy.
"If it needs to be me, I can do that. If he wants to put the blame on me, then let him do it.
"If I still need to shoulder the blame for Phil, I'll do that.
"I pretty much quit golf after that. I took the blame for everything."
However, he suggested Mickelson might be better off concentrating on the job in hand - namely trying to stop Europe winning an unprecedented fourth successive Ryder Cup.
"I find it amusing that that's an issue at the 2016 Ryder Cup," he added.
"I think Phil better get his mind on what he needs to have it on this week instead of on something that happened 10 years ago."