Phil Mickelson admits criticism of Hal Sutton was 'in bad taste'

Woods hasn't played in the Ryder Cup since being on the losing side in 2010, and it's one competition where he hasn't exactly shined.

With reigning Masters champion Danny Willett, British Open victor Henrik Stenson, Rio Olympic gold medalist Justin Rose and world No. 3 Rory McIlroy - the overall FedEx Cup winner on the US PGA Tour - Europe has plenty of firepower alongside the six rookies in its 12-man team.

For Europeans, the response to the word "team" is far more emotional. All that, in front of a home crowd baying for Euro blood.

"It's been really exciting for us because we've been on so many teams, and to have this much input and involvement in the process, the way Davis has implemented everybody's input, the way he's brought everybody together and their ideas, it's been fun for Tiger and I".

Phil Mickelson has apologised to Hal Sutton for criticising the way he captained the 2004 US Ryder Cup team. It's no secret that Phil has had issues with captains in the past-hello Tom Watson.

Watson's perceived failings were magnified by counterpart Paul McGinley's shiny modern management techniques and reported attention to detail.

There is rarely a shortage of drama in the Ryder Cup - and that's before it gets started. Victory is the only validation.

"It's obviously not the thoughts of myself and of the team and of captain Darren (Clarke)".

Vice-captain Tiger Woods
PGA of America via Getty Davis Love earlier hailed Woods contribution despite not playing

The U.S. ended that week by slumping to a crushing defeat by 18-1/2 points to 9-1/2 with Sutton widely slammed for his decision to pair Mickelson and Woods, two players who were never particularly close. "I feel like I'm up for a lot of golf and unless the knee tells me otherwise", said Stenson. Stats from Accenture showed that he was by no means the best player on the pitch but his impact on the team as a leader was massive as the team would lose ground, possession, and points much more without him present.

Now, even if the aggregate score is the same between the two teams (one team makes a birdie/bogey, say, whereas the other team makes two parts - which would total the same number of strokes), the team with the lowest individual score takes the hole.

Twice major victor Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, who formed an unbeaten partnership at the 2014 Ryder Cup in Scotland, teed off together on Wednesday morning at Hazeltine, along with U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson and Matt Kuchar. After a 14-month absence, he plans to return to competitive golf in a little more than two weeks at the Safeway Open in California and surely his game needs some work. The proof, as ever, will be in the putting. The entire Cup is going to be enthralling. "That helps him streamline his time-management".

Sutton continued: "There's a lot of controversy that follows Phil everywhere, I'll leave it at that". Sounding accomplished and statesmanlike is deemed another small tick on the captaincy ledger.

"You think you know what it's like and you think you've played under pressure, but you haven't".

Both teams also have a collection of "vice captains", including Tiger Woods. Of course in some of those instances they have been the better players and their partners didn't play as well and the two lost their matches because of that; other times they haven't played well and it carried over to the rest of the team. "It's really stuff that you're like, well, I should have been thinking about that". Six of Team Europe's players have never played in a Ryder Cup, whereas only Koepka and Moore have no Ryder Cup experience for Team USA.

Woods' presence as one of those U.S. assistants, has already sparked plenty of debate.

  • Julie Sanders