Mickelson Back After Benching

RSS

04 Ryder CupBLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Phil Mickelson spent a sleepless night, not that it really mattered - he had plenty of time to rest up Saturday morning at the Ryder Cup.
 
The best player in the majors this year, a chastised Mickelson sat out the morning four-ball matches mostly because U.S. captain Hal Sutton dared not risk giving away any more points.
 
Energized by the time off, he teamed with David Toms to beat Europe's Miguel Angel Jimenez and Thomas Levet, 4 and 3, in an alternate-shot match. But the United States still faces a worst-ever 11-5 deficit.
 
Mickelson refused to fight the performance-driven benching or criticize an embarrassing public reprimand by Sutton, who said Friday, 'It (Mickelson's play) is not going to cause us any grief in the morning because he's going to be cheering instead of playing.'
 
Cheering, he did - though Mickelson followed the Jay Haas-Chris DiMarco twosome and was nowhere near Tiger Woods, his failed Dream Team partner of the day before.
 
Mickelson and Woods couldn't have had less chemistry during twin losses that put the United States in a 6 1/2-1 1/2 hole Friday, rarely talking, offering advice or helping each other line up putts.
 
Mickelson had plenty of time to sleep on the losses, then found he couldn't do even that.
 
'Well, I didn't sleep, it was a brutal night,' Mickelson said. 'I think Captain Hal and the team put a lot of faith in Tiger and myself to play well - and I didn't. I looked at some of the pictures as we walked down the fairway and, boy, I was so tight. I was tighter than I played all year.'
 
Mickelson looked much more relaxed with Toms as his teammate, illustrating why U.S. captains never teamed Woods and Mickelson and their mismatched personalities in their previous three Ryder Cups together.
 
'We all approached the round so intense,' Mickelson said. 'We want to win this thing so bad, we are under constant scrutiny and ridicule. We know we can play well and we just fight it. And we don't play loose, we don't play upbeat.'
 
That's why Mickelson didn't mind sitting out Saturday morning.
 
'It was very similar to '99 at Brookline. I played awful on Friday, I lost both points, lost a lot of confidence in my game,' Mickelson said. 'I had the morning off in '99 as I did today. It gave me an hour or two to support the team, an hour or two to work on my game and get sharp.
 
'I did all I could do. I was responsible only for one point and I got it.'
 
Mickelson also defended his decision to switch clubs, from Titleist to Callaway, only a week before golf's most important team competition. Sutton and others questioned the switch's timing as being an unnecessary distraction.
 
'If I went the other way and played with something that everybody else thought was right but I didn't, that I can't live with,' Mickelson said. 'So it was a mistake I can live with. But it wasn't a mistake.'
 
Mickelson, the Masters champion who is No. 2 on the PGA money list, also was criticized for practicing on his own instead of with his teammates on Wednesday or Thursday, the only golfer on either team to do so.
 
The United States now must stage the greatest comeback in Ryder Cup history to win, needing 9 1/2 points from Sunday's 12 matches.
 
'We have, for all intents and purposes, lost the cup, but we can still win it,' Mickelson said. 'So you're going to see us play loose and try to win.'
 
Blame it on the clubs, blame it on the secrecy, blame it on his incompatibility with Woods. No matter the reason, Mickelson knows he and Woods will be held largely accountable if the United States loses for the fourth time in the last five Ryder Cups.
 
Between them, they have won only two of five matches.
 
'If Tiger and I had gotten off to a quick start and given us some momentum, I think the day (Friday) would have been different,' Mickelson said.
 
Related Links:
  • Match Play Scoring
  • Photo Gallery

  • U.S. Ryder Cup Team

  • European Ryder Cup Team

  • Full Coverage - 35th Ryder Cup

  •  
    Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.