Tuesday 17 October 2017

Tom Watson accuses Phil Mickelson of 'sour grapes' over Ryder Cup outburst

Phil Mickelson (left) made a considered decision to brutally blame his outgoing captain Tom Watson. Photo: Harry How/Getty Images
Phil Mickelson (left) made a considered decision to brutally blame his outgoing captain Tom Watson. Photo: Harry How/Getty Images

Tom Watson accused Phil Mickelson of sour grapes as their Ryder Cup spat resurfaced on the veteran's return to Scotland for this week's Open Championship.

Mickelson made a scathing attack on the five-time Open champion's captaincy in the aftermath of the United States' defeat at Gleneagles last September.

Speaking in the post-event press conference, with Watson sitting just a few feet away, Mickelson highlighted deficiencies in the captain's approach by praising the winning methods of previous skipper Paul Azinger.

Mickelson, who had been playing in the biennial contest against Europe for a 10th time, was left out of Saturday's action by Watson, and the team eventually went down to a 16.5-11.5 loss.

The mood was rather more upbeat as veteran Watson spoke to media at St Andrews ahead of his anticipated final Open appearance this week, but the thorny subject of that last major press conference in Scotland was raised.

Watson, 65, said: "That was a disappointment to me, it was disappointing. Phil was very disappointed about not being able to play. It was kind of sour grapes. That's understandable, and we just got waxed, the whole team, and the disappointment was just there. We let our hearts talk for us.

"I did everything I possibly could in my own mind, with the help of my (vice) captains and the PGA, to do everything possible to have us win, but the other team were better.

"We had a chance to win it on the last day. We got off to the start that I asked them to do that previous night, we were in the right position there - just didn't carry on."

Mickelson sidestepped the issue at the Scottish Open last week and pre-empted questions by instead speaking about Watson's playing record as "one of the greatest champions this game has ever had".

The pair met at the traditional Open champions' dinner at St Andrews on Tuesday and Watson said their relationship is now fine.

He said: "We're cordial. I saw him last night. We said hello and we were fine."

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