His tongue might have planted firmly in his cheek but Phil Mickelson knew exactly what he was doing when he replied to a question about a perceived lack of unity between the players on recent American Ryder Cup teams.
“Not only are we able to play together,” said the 44-year-old, dismissing the assertion, “we also don’t litigate against each other and that’s a real plus, I feel, heading into this week.”
The reference was a clear dig at the soured relationship between Team Europe’s Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, the result of a convoluted court case between Rory and Horizon, the management company the duo once shared.
Despite frequent protestations that all is fine between the Northern Irish compatriots and former major winners – “You should see them in the team room,” observed Ian Poulter – the matter is clearly a distraction and, judging by Mickelson’s comments, haven’t gone unnoticed by the Americans.
“Obviously, I’m going to play again with Keegan,” - Mickelson reveals his (unsurprising) partner
The left-hander makes his tenth Ryder Cup appearance this week, where he admits he will be looking to improve on his mediocre record in the contest. He has won just 14 of his 38 matches, losing 18 and halving six. Should he lose four or more matches this year, he will set a new record for most defeats, by any player on either side, in the history of the contest.
“It’s a record I’d like to improve on,” said Mickelson. “That’s certainly a goal.”
Helping him to that will be Keegan Bradley. The pair teamed-up to devastating effect at Medinah two years ago, winning all three of their matches together and inspiring the US to a commanding 8-4 lead by the end of the third session on the Saturday morning.
“Obviously, I’m going to play again with Keegan,” Mickelson said. “I don’t think I’m letting go of any secrets here. If you’ve noticed, we’ve played together these first few rounds and we seem to have a good partnership. He brings out some of my best golf and I’m very optimistic that I can improve on my record.
“But we’re taking on a very strong team on their home soil. It’s going to be a challenge.”
Read more: Paul Lawrie shares first tee anxiety
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