Ryder Cup 2016 Diary: Phil Mickelson deploys bizarre backtrack

Justin Rose is $100 worse off after a punter’s brilliant putt, Europe cut a dash in their threads and Tiger Woods cannot be tempted to have a swing
Phil Mickelson was contrite in offering a televised apology to 2004 captain Hal Sutton.
Phil Mickelson was contrite in offering a televised apology to the 2004 USA Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton. Photograph: Visions in Gol/Rex/Shutterstock
Phil Mickelson was contrite in offering a televised apology to the 2004 USA Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton. Photograph: Visions in Gol/Rex/Shutterstock

Last modified on Wed 21 Feb 2018 09.49 EST

Phil Mickelson appeared on television to issue a grovelling apology to Hal Sutton. On Tuesday, Mickelson criticised what he regarded as bad preparation by Sutton when he was the US captain in 2004. “I feel awful,” Mickelson said. “It was never meant to be like that, I was trying to use an example of how a captain can have a strong effect.

“Unfortunately it came across the way it did. I was totally in the wrong. I never should have brought that up. I used an extreme example of the way decisions can affect play and I never should have done that because it affected Hal.” Mickelson is old enough and wise enough to know what he was doing in the first place. The backtracking is bizarre.

Rose pays up for punter’s putt

Justin Rose was unbeaten in the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, but the Olympic champion has already tasted defeat at Hazeltine – to an American spectator. After Andy Sullivan and Rory McIlroy had failed to make a putt on the eighth green during the practice round on Thursday, David Johnson from North Dakota shouted that he could make it from around 12 feet.

Rose and Henrik Stenson, the other two European players in the group, decided to call the man’s bluff and brought him out of the crowd, with Rose even betting him $100 that he would miss. However, after Rose placed the $100 bill on the green, Johnson promptly holed the putt to spark wild celebrations and earn himself high-fives and hugs from the European quartet.

McIlroy in for Turkish payday

Rory McIlroy used Ryder Cup eve to confirm he will join Tiger Woods in the Turkish Airlines Open in November. McIlroy and Woods are expected to receive huge appearance fees to participate at the Regnum Carya resort, where a $7m prize fund is also available. “This is the start of an important run to the climax of the season,” McIlroy said. “The Turkish Airlines Open has already established itself as a key week in the golfing calendar and one I know all the guys really look forward to.”

Europe cut a dash

Tony Jacklin is credited with the raising of standards of dress and accessories when he was European captain in 1983. Jacklin would approve, then, of this European team donning clothing from the Italian manufacturer Loro Piana. A glance at the company website shows knitwear, similar to that worn by the European players at Hazeltine this week, retailing for more than $4,000 a piece.

Tiger keeps low profile

Patrick Reed revealed the USA players have been trying to persuade Tiger Woods to illustrate his current playing abilities, but to no avail. Woods is a vice-captain to Davis Love III and has kept a generally low-key presence at Hazeltine, including the polite refusal of a request to give a media-centre interview. “He has not swung a golf club, unfortunately,” Reed said. “We are all pushing him to, but he’s not going to do it.”

Hats off to hats-off plan

The decision of Europe’s players not to wear hats during Ryder Cup practice days has been a positive one. Golf’s great characters, Seve Ballesteros amongst them, did not play in headwear. The acceptance of hats as a standard part of the professional outfit has led to all players looking the same and arguably shut-off to the watching world. Not that Martin Kaymer was accepting of a wider meaning. “I have a small head; the hats that were in the locker room don’t fit my head well,” the German said.

Hazeltine pays tribute to Palmer

The flags at Hazeltine flew at half mast on Thursday in memory of Arnold Palmer, who passed away on Sunday aged 87 and whose towering presence will loom large over the proceedings all weekend. The PGA vice-president, Paul Levy, said the players and executives will wear the umbrella pins that Palmer made famous, while organisers plan to hand out 50,000 Arnie’s Army buttons to spectators upon entry for Friday’s play. The opening ceremony will include a video tribute and a moment of silence, while Palmer’s Ryder Cup bag will stand by the first tee for the duration of the competition. Palmer, in addition to winning 62 tour titles including seven majors, played on six Ryder Cup teams from 1961 through 1973 and won 22 matches, more than any American in history. “He’s been such an icon for everybody,” Dustin Johnson said on Thursday. “The things he’s done for the game will never be forgotten.”

Reed thrills in Woods walk

Reed made headlines as a Ryder Cup rookie when he raised his index finger to his lips to shush the rowdy Scottish crowd at Gleneagles two years ago, but the 26-year-old American’s sophomore appearance may prove even more personally memorable. The Texan is playing in the pod headed by Woods, offering him an up-close audience with his childhood hero that included a one‑on-one tour of Hazeltine’s back nine. “He walked it with me, helping me figure out the golf course. You don’t get that very often. And to have somebody do that for you, especially a guy like Tiger Woods, it meant a lot to me,” Reed said. “I learned so much just from that nine holes walking around that I felt like just that alone could save me so many shots throughout my career, because of – just by thinking about just the little minor details. And it’s not rocket science. It’s really stuff that you’re like, well, I should have been thinking about that.”