CHASKA, Minn. – The normal pressure to win the Ryder Cup was compounded for the U.S. team this year with the added weight of trying to get the changes right.
The task force-turned-committee that overhauled the entire Ryder Cup process for the U.S. side was on trial, whether those behind the makeover wanted to admit it or not.
“The pressure started when some dumbass opened his mouth two years ago in the media center,” said Phil Mickelson, who gets much of the credit for the task force after he criticized the leadership and process two years ago in Scotland.
For Mickelson, this was much more than just his 11th start in the biennial matches, it was a referendum on his leadership. The man behind the changes, and the man calling many of the shots according to various sources, probably felt more pressure than anyone. All of which makes his performance in Minnesota even more impressive.
Mickelson went 2-1-1 for the week, including a 2-and-1 victory paired with Matt Kuchar in Saturday’s fourball session that helped shift momentum back in the U.S. team’s direction.
In a moment of telling levity, Mickelson was asked following the U.S. team’s 17-11 victory what he thought of captain Davis Love III’s leadership style? Nearly the entire team turned their chairs in his direction in mocking anticipation.
“We had a lot of fun together as a team, and we played some great golf and we are really excited to have won,” he smiled as the team applauded.
Mickelson went on to explain the importance of the changes and what this means to the future of the Ryder Cup.
“It's important to start this foundation. It's great that we had success this week, but it's not about one year or one Ryder Cup. It's about a multitude, for decades to come,” he said before being interrupted by a champagne cork being popped. “That's my cue to shut up.”