Mickelson apologises to Sutton over captaincy criticism

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Phil Mickelson has apologised to former United States captain Hal Sutton for questioning his leadership at the 2004 Ryder Cup.

Left-hander Mickelson was responding to questions on the importance of the captain during a news conference on Wednesday, and highlighted what he considered to be a questionable decision from Sutton to partner him with Tiger Woods in Michigan.

Mickelson, the winner of five major championships, claimed that the lack of preparation time he had to get used to Woods' high-spin ball contributed to their failure as Europe routed United States 18.5 - 9.5.

That drew a strong rebuttal from Sutton, who claimed that Mickelson had insufficiently prepared by switching his clubs and ball heading into the competition.

Speaking to the Golf Channel, Sutton said: "It was very self-serving for him to do that prior to the Ryder Cup in 2004. So, if he needs me to shoulder the blame for his poor play, I can do that."

Mickelson, who will represent the US at Hazeltine in the latest installment this weekend, has now reached out to Sutton to apologise and says he was "totally in the wrong" to pick out a specific example.

"I've communicated with him," he the Golf Channel. "It came across like it was a personal attack and I didn't mean it that way.

"I feel awful. 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 the way decisions can affect play and I never should have done that because it affected Hal.

"I put him on the spot, I wasn't thinking, I was trying to convey the importance of the captain and so forth and used a specific example I never should have done that it put him in an awkward position.

"One of the things we've tried to do this year is bring back the past captains and bring back this family feel, I made him feel unfortunately awkward and I'm really, really sorry about that. He's a big part of the Ryder Cup family, it's so fun to see him."