Mickelson blames Hal Sutton for failed Tiger pairing at 2004 Ryder Cup

Phil Mickelson has memories of the 2004 Ryder Cup. Just not good ones.

“Lefty” opened up Wednesday about his failed partnership with Tiger Woods at the 2004 tournament, letting team captain Hal Sutton have it, writes ESPN’s Bob Harig.

“It all starts with the captain,” Mickelson said. “We were told two days before that we were playing together. And that gave us no time to work together and prepare.”

Mickelson and Woods lost to Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington in best-ball play, but the alternate-shot competition irked Mickelson the most.

Woods and Mickelson used different types of golf balls – Tiger “a very high-spin ball” and Mickelson “a very low-spin ball” – and since their pairing was announced so late, they had little time to come up with a solution.

“In the history of my career, I have never ball-tested two days prior to a major. I’ve never done it. It doesn’t allow me to play my best,” Mickelson said. “What allows me to play my best is to learn the course, sharpen my touch on the greens, sharpen my chipping out of the rough and ball striking and so forth.

“Instead, I’m taking four or five hours and I’m out trying to learn another ball to allow us to play our best. Had we known months in advance, we might have been able to make it work. I think we probably would have made it work. But we didn’t know until two days prior.”

Europe smoked the U.S. in 2004, winning 18 1/2 to 9 1/2.

Mickelson added that it wasn’t his intention Wednesday to slam Sutton, and that he liked the captain’s decisiveness, but said the team was not given the right opportunities.

“That’s an example of starting with the captain, that put us in a position to fail, and we failed monumentally, absolutely. But to say, well, you just need to play better; that is so misinformed because you will play how you prepare.”

Mickelson said he still hears criticism of his practice away from the team back in 2004, and it clearly still bothers him.

The U.S. has lost two straight Ryder Cups and five of the last six.

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