PGA president defends Phil Mickelson’s Ryder Cup outburst
Ted Bishop believes constructive criticism showed player’s passion for the event
PGA president Ted Bishop has defended Phil Mickelson after his criticism of US captain Tom Watson in the wake of last week’s Ryder Cup defeat. Photograph: Harry Engels/Getty Images
Europe claimed a 16½-11½ win at Gleneagles seven days ago and immediately afterwards Mickelson openly questioned the tactics of Watson in a post-tournament press conference.
With Watson sitting just a few feet away, Mickelson – left out of a full day’s play on Saturday for the first time in 10 Ryder Cup appearances – stated his support for the methods of Paul Azinger, who captained the side to their last win at Valhalla in 2008.
Watson has since issued an open letter taking responsibility for any mistakes made in defeat but Mickelson was widely criticised for the nature of his attack on the five-time British Open champion.
And while Bishop admitted he felt some sympathy for the captain and felt the debate should have taken place in private, he refused to be overly critical of Mickelson, saying he would make a “great” captain in future.
“He did what he did with a purpose whether you agree with it or not,” Bishop told BBC Radio Five Live’s Sportsweek programme.
“He’s passionate about the Ryder Cup and he feels that there needs to be some changes going forward and I think Phil would undoubtedly say that, if what he said on Sunday night helps propagate some of those changes, then he probably would be okay with it.
“From a United States standpoint, just really blowing the model up and starting completely over and trying to get some people involved who, as Phil said, are invested in the process.
“We need to have the input of players. Players need to feel good about where we’re going with this.”
Following an eighth Ryder Cup defeat in 10 contests, Bishop is now keen to look forward as the PGA of America attempt to remodel the way they approach the biennial contest.
“With every step of the way there’s an opportunity for good things to happen,” he said.
“The PGA of America is in a pretty deep analysis right now about trying to really change our Ryder Cup model going forward and if this precipitates some changes that’s probably a good thing.
“The first thing we’re probably going to do is assemble a task force that’s comprised of some former Ryder Cup captains, some current Ryder Cup players along with a handful of PGA of America officials.
“I think we’re going to take a complete review of everything concerning the Ryder Cup beginning with the way we pick a captain.
“Secondly would be the way that we pick the players that are going to be on that team.
“I think that we’re at a point where we need to really analyse a lot of different things.
“Not that we’re necessarily trying to mimic or copy what Ryder Cup Europe is doing but they certainly have developed a formula of success.
“There’s some consistencies that they utilise from Ryder Cup to Ryder Cup that have paid off for them so we can certainly, probably, steal a page from their book.”
“Paul McGinley proved you can train and groom somebody to be a very successful Ryder Cup captain,” he said.
“Since 1999, Davis Love is the only (American) Ryder Cup captain that previously served as an assistant captain and I think that’s an eye-opening statement, really, when you stop and think about it.
“I don’t see how anybody can have their best chance to succeed as a Ryder Cup captain when they haven’t first been a vice-captain once or twice.”