Golf Writer, Keith Cook, looks at the world today through a golf lens.
CRUEL, CRUEL WORLD
It’s a cruel, cruel, world. A world in which, we don’t hit it out of the park every time we pitch the next great idea to our boss. A world in which, we don’t win every game we play in. A world, yes, where we’re not the best at everything we do. It sucks, but, that’s life as they say.
However, this week reminds us not everyone lives in that same world with us.
Expectations and energy to win should always be there, but it’s in sport, where these expectations become blurred and the disappointing happens.
GOLF – INDIVIDUALLY FOCUSED?
If this week confirmed to us anything about golf – it’s that golf is a very individualized game. One where climbing to the heights of success means you – and you alone – must dedicate everything to yourself. Practice, play, improvement, training … even eating right is an individual focus, if you’re going to compete at the highest levels. It’s all good when it’s you, but when it means you have to focus on others – or listen to others – golfers are generally done.
Phil Mickelson confirmed this fact to us once again this week, with his unfortunate comments, which took absolutely all the fun out of losing.
For those who missed it, Phil decided to share his “vision” of what works in an open press conference with Team USA Captains and teammates along side of him. To significantly boil down Mickelson’s remarks to their essentials: “We did it better in 2008,” and, “I really liked Captain Paul Azinger’s way of putting us in Pods.” – MEANING – “I didn’t like the way we did it in 2014,” and, “I didn’t like Captain Tom Watson’s way of doing things.”
Honesty is a good character trait, but good judgement has to be thrown in there somewhere, too. When his comments were described as, “a pretty brutal destruction of the leadership that’s gone on this week,” by a reporter asking a follow-up question, Mickelson’s response was, “Oh, I’m sorry you’re taking it that way. I’m just talking about what Paul Azinger did to help us play our best.”
You know, one of those apologies, where someone apologizes to you for how you feel . . . and not really about what they said or did. Love those.
In the context of the open press conference with Captains and Teammates present, I feel Mickelson’s comments were out of line – even if he felt them to be true. To make matters worse, this was the first time Mickelson had shared his “vision” on how to win with Tom Watson, and I guess, felt like the right time to share was at the open press conference – after the Cup was over.
I’ve got some bad news though for Phil Mickelson. Pods, Triangles, Circles, alphabetic, height, lottery draws . . . NONE of it would have mattered in 2014. Take a deep breath, because whether you like to be led, consulted, partnered, or asked, Team USA was no match for Team Europe this year. Sorry.
In the 2014 Ryder Cup, Team Europe shot -110 under par for the week. Team USA, -78 under. That’s a 32-stroke difference doing quick math. No PODs or any other system/captain/space alien would have made a difference in the butt kicking Team USA was handed. Tough to take, but that’s why Mickelson’s comments were even more destructive – they only made the outcome sting more, and linger longer.
TIME TO MOVE FORWARD
I’ve always considered Phil Mickelson to be a classy golfer. One blurt – more than likely out of character and through frustration, won’t change that completely, but will certainly affect mine – and many other fan’s – impressions. I hope Mickelson will apologize for the timing of the remarks over the next few days – even if he still believes them to be true.
Moving forward, it’s almost a certainty Phil Mickelson will be a President’s Cup or Ryder Cup Captain (or maybe both) down the road. I wonder how he’d feel getting hit with the same bus in the future that he just drove over Tom Watson.
BIO: Keith Cook is a Writer and Contributing Editor for localgolfer.com. He is a retired 29-year US Military Veteran and Ashford University Graduate living in Michigan. Follow Keith and Local Golfer on Twitter @_KeithCook and @LocalGolfer
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