Friday 27 April 2018

Phil Mickelson spoke to Rory at last night's gala and we've laughed off 'litigation' jibe - Justin Rose

Europe's Justin Rose during a press conference at Gleneagles
Europe's Justin Rose during a press conference at Gleneagles

Phil Casey

Europe's Ryder Cup team have laughed off Phil Mickelson's attempt to wind them up on the eve of the event.

On Wednesday the American veteran made a joke about Rory McIlroy's court case against former management company Horizon - which has seen team-mate Graeme McDowell dragged into the dispute as he is still represented by them.

"Not only are we able to play together, we also don't litigate against each other and that's a real plus, I feel, heading into this week," said the five-time major winner.

The remark, whether tongue-in-cheek or carefully placed, did not go unnoticed by the European team but they have brushed it aside with relative disdain.

"I did see them (Mickelson's comments) but you need to see how Rory and G-Mac (McDowell) are in the team room," said Ian Poulter.

"They are very comfortable. There's no animosity in there whatsoever. The guys are good so I just have to laugh at the comment."

Martin Kaymer, who holed the putt which retained the Ryder Cup at Medinah two years ago, echoed those sentiments.

"It's not really a topic for us. It's one of those things - you read it, you laugh about it and that's it," said the German.

"I heard about it yesterday for the first time on the bus but I think at the end of the day we should just play golf.

"It's fairly simple. If things like this start I don't know if that's necessary."

Justin Rose said the players took it all in their stride and stressed there was no hint of disharmony in their locker room.

"Of course it's a bit of banter and getting things going. We don't have a problem with that at all," he said.

"There's no real angst between the players from that point of view at all and in our team room, it's a non-issue.

"I've obviously been observing Rory and G-Mac too and they have been getting on great and playing golf and hanging out and having dinners together.

"Of course it was mentioned last night (at the gala dinner). Phil came up to Rory last night and was like 'Hey, this and that'. It's no real big deal.

"I'll call it banter and nothing more serious than that."

The Europeans are not short of a banter or a withering put-down themselves and Poulter's assessment of the American team in a series of pen pics published on Thursday are hardly complimentary.

He described Matt Kuchar as a "20-teeth plodder", said Patrick Reed's admittedly ambitious claim he was one of the best five players in the world was "stretching it" and admitted he could not remember anything wildcard Webb Simpson had done this season.

However, Poulter rejected the suggestion such comments made any difference.

"I think we're all aware and we all want to win this trophy, so I don't really think the mind games come into play," added the Englishman, Europe's talisman in Medinah.

"There's obviously bigger media coverage nowadays than there was so we're more aware of it but I don't think it's a big factor.

"For 103 weeks we're all friends on the golf course and there's no personal vendettas.

"There's no grudges against anybody out there. The fact is, it's healthy for us to be able to go out there as two teams that actually want to win this trophy.

"I see it as great for golf. I see it that we need to bring this thing back to all-square, and they have had the upper hand for so long that we are starting to try to work hard to get that back on an even keel."

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