In what should be the one of the greater times of the year in golf, we are instead contemplating the actions of grumpy, old men, at least on this side of the ocean, where the situation has gone toxic after Europe won its third straight Ryder Cup and its eighth in the last 10 showdowns.
The only toxicity on the other side of the Atlantic is inside the systems of the players who decisively won 16 1/2 to 11 1/2.
“I’m still drunk,” is a quote attributed on Monday to Jamie Donaldson, who sealed the deal for the Euros with a magnificent approach on the 15th hole on Sunday at Gleneagles.
That will go away quickly, but the same can’t be said for the hangover caused by Phil Mickleson’s comments about Tom Watson, pods and Paul Azinger that have been dissected so much in the past 24 hours that any analysis here would fail to shed any more light on the subject.
Mercifully, the Ryder Cup is being infused with new blood in Donaldson and stone-cold enigma Victor Dubuisson on the European side and Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth and Jimmy Walker on the U.S. side, with Billy Horschel on deck for sometime in the future.
Hopefully, a guy like Reed will remember what that competitive fire burning in his belly felt like for next time. He’ll need it because Mickelson failed to set an example for the guys who will carry on for the U.S.
What Mickelson said will carry over for two years along with the most recent loss, just as the Miracle at Medinah carried into this one. Mickelson’s comments only compounded the most recent loss and will be brought up again and again in two years.
Mickelson’s comments about Watson aren’t about whether Watson was right or wrong in his picks or how he made them, but instead illustrated why the U.S. has been unsuccessful in a team competition, particularly in alternate shot, the epitome of team play.
Oddly enough, the Americans have shown they’re capable of team play in the Presidents Cup, and did at one time in the Ryder Cup in memorable showdowns such as the War by the Shore and the Battle of Brookline.
Whatever the Americans had has ebbed away over the past 15 years or so and if changes are needed, so be it, but all Mickelson’s comments did was make the situation even worse. What did he accomplish by barbecuing Watson publicly that wouldn’t get done in a more private setting?
Watson made the right move by not responding.
Mickelson failed to be a mentor for those coming behind him, which sets up a good illustration for the golf industry. Positive mentoring by experienced people not only develops those behind them, but also sets those young people up for success in future endeavours.
Avenues in which to constructively address concerns and disputes are a necessity in the workplace over public arguments or talking behind management’s back, which can create a toxic environment, not only for the specific person, but also those around that person, including those learning their trade.
It carries on, not only for the operation, or team in the case of the Ryder Cup, but with somebody who may believe that negativity is the norm in trying to get things accomplished.