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Tom Watson is one of the greats, says Phil Mickelson

By Phil Casey

Published 09/07/2015

AUCHTERARDER, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 26: Phil Mickelson (L) of the United States talks with captain Tom Watson on the 6th tee during the Morning Fourballs of the 2014 Ryder Cup on the PGA Centenary course at the Gleneagles Hotel on September 26, 2014 in Auchterarder, Scotland. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
AUCHTERARDER, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 26: Phil Mickelson (L) of the United States talks with captain Tom Watson on the 6th tee during the Morning Fourballs of the 2014 Ryder Cup on the PGA Centenary course at the Gleneagles Hotel on September 26, 2014 in Auchterarder, Scotland. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Phil Mickelson knew the question was coming, so decided to answer it himself before it could even be asked.

With Tom Watson making his farewell appearance in the Open Championship next week, Mickelson knew he would be asked about his public criticism of Watson's Ryder Cup captaincy last year.

"I thought I would get asked about Tom Watson and the only thing I would say is that he's one of the greatest champions this game has ever had, and I hope next week is a celebration of that greatness," Mickelson said ahead of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.

"It's his last Open Championship and I'm certainly appreciative of all he's done for the game of golf, and that's all I really wanted to say on that."

Mickelson had plenty to say on the 65-year-old's captaincy at Gleneagles immediately after Europe's eighth victory in the last 10 contests.

With Watson sitting just a few feet away in the US team's press conference, Mickelson praised the approach of 2008 winning captain Paul Azinger and said none of the American players had any input into Watson's decisions.

Mickelson, who was making a record 10th appearance, was unhappy at having to sit out the whole day on Saturday for the first time in his career.

"Unfortunately we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best," he said.

Watson, who had captained the United States to their last victory on European soil at The Belfry in 1993, responded by saying: "He has a difference of opinion. That's okay.

"My management philosophy is different than his."

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