As the champagne was flowing over the men in blue, one of the most awkward press conferences of all time was happening mere feet away. Phil Moanilson, sorry, Mickelson had turned on his captain in their hour of defeat.
In a twist of pure Shakespearean style he very publically and brutally tore apart the work of one of the game’s greats.
To watch it was the equivalent of walking in on your parents having sex and then having your mum tell you that her ex-boyfriend was a better lover than your dad. It was off the charts of awkwardness.
What followed has been well documented.
A “Task Force” was built where they decided to take the Ryder Cup more seriously – strange, they don’t appear to have been messing around since the turn of the century, just coming up against European teams playing better golf.
Two things have come out of the task force;
1) Players need more input – no more so than Phil it seems. He was the driving force behind setting the task force up and has been the most vocal about it the entire time.
2) The final captain’s pick needs to be made much later – this one baffles me. Given Phil’s influence on the task force, he came out on Sunday just a few hours before Ryan Moore’s phone rang and said that they’d left the pick too late.
First he took down his captain, now he’s taking down the task force he created.
“Success is my only option, failure’s not” – were the words (censored) that Eminem once spat, and they could not be more true of the US team this time around.
No team has even been so public about the lengths they have gone to try and figure out this bi-annual contest and no team would therefore be more embarrassed to sit with their heads in their hands trying to explain away another loss on home soil.
If they win, they will only do what they should do. It’s a lose, lose scenario.
Add to that, if the U.S win this Ryder Cup they’ll have still lost eight of the last 11, they still have a monumental task to work back toward recent parity.
Either way, I would never want to be a teammate of Phil Mickelson’s. He has blamed everybody around him for the loss’ that he has been a part of.
He turned on the great Tom Watson in 2014, he’s already been criticising his own task force, as well as the set up between the PGA Tour and USPGA, the latter of which own the US Ryder Cup team.
No individual is bigger than the team, we saw superstars exit Manchester United over two decades because of that mantra and Davis Love III has the same issue this week. Phil seems to be trying to make this the Phil show.
What if he turns up without his best golf this weekend? Is Davis strong enough to make him sit a session out? And if he does, what effect will that have on the team?
So to the Europeans; any team coming off the back of a hat-trick of wins should be full of confidence, but the irony here is that half of the team have no idea what those wins felt like.
There isn’t any finger pointing to do, six of the 12 hottest players in Europe this year haven’t played in the Ryder Cup before – it’s just the way it is.
Captain Clarke can’t be blamed for that, but it does give him some interesting headaches when it comes to pairings. Can he afford to keep his big guns like Stenson and Rose together?
Can he keep the rookies motivated if they are only playing one session a day? Can his experienced guys play well enough to allow him to rotate rookies around him?
If he can blend all of that together under a pressure and scrutiny that is beyond anything we’ve seen, even at Ryder Cup standards, he’ll weave his way deeper into Ryder Cup folklore.
In 2012, 12 men went out on Sunday afternoon with a deep desire to win for a legend that was no longer with us. With the image of him on their sleeve they accomplished one of sports all-time great come backs.
This year we ask of them something equally as special but different; win for a living legend. A man who didn’t walk away from the Ryder Cup when nobody would have blamed him for doing so.
Both in 2006 at the Ryder Cup and in 2011 at The Open we watched Captain Clarke through tear-filled eyes as he defied all the odds. No European deserves to be a winning captain more than him, but it will be his greatest achievement if he pulls it off.
Later on tonight we’ll find out who is going to take centre stage tomorrow morning. Being in the States it is the foursomes that is played in the morning, with the fourballs in the afternoon.
I’ve had a blast at taking my turn at being the captain of both teams, I am sure you won’t be shy in telling me that I’ve made the wrong decision so am looking forward to reading the comments to seeing the different pairings that everyone will come up with.
Spieth Reed - Rose Stenson
Kucher Johnson - Kaymer Pieters
Mickelson Koepka - Willett Westwood
Fowler Walker - McIlroy Garcia
This year more than most the narrative of this great story is so intriguingly and delicately poised. With another strong team and playing in the shadow of the King, Arnold Palmer, on home soil I have no doubt that the Americans are heavy favourites, but for some reason I cannot write the Europeans off.
I’ve seen them defy the odds too many times to do that. It’s going to be one hell of a weekend, so call up wife’s friends and make plans for her, move the sky box to a different room, do whatever you need to do but miss this at your peril.
It’s going to be epic. Come on Europe!
I'm a writer for #GCW. I like to pretend I'm good at golf and writing because I'm not ready to accept the truth about either...