'Dumbass' Mickelson admits putting USA under pressure
Phil Mickelson has acknowledged he put himself and the United States under considerable pressure to finally regain the Ryder Cup by criticising Tom Watson's leadership style in 2014.
The veteran questioned the thoroughness of his team's preparation for the event at Gleneagles immediately after they had suffered a painful third successive defeat.
Those awkward comments, made in the presence of beaten skipper and respected golfing great Watson, influenced the creation of a special taskforce dedicated to ensuring victory at Hazeltine.
And while that objective was fulfilled with a drought-breaking 17-11 triumph, a sheepish Mickelson felt obliged to make reference to his infamous faux pas.
"The pressure to win this Ryder Cup started two years ago when some dumbass opened his mouth in the media centre," he said.
"The thing about this is that we need to build on this. Otherwise, it's all for naught.
"We created a very solid foundation this year ... and it's important that we build on that ... because for us to go to Europe and try to win the cup is a whole different feat," he added, referring to the 2018 event at Le Golf National near Paris.
"That's going to require a whole different level of play, of solidarity, of fortitude and we are going to have to build on this in two years if we want to try to retain the cup.
"So it's important to start this foundation. Yes, it's great that we had success this week, but it's not about one year or one Ryder Cup. It's about a multitude, for decades to come."
The oldest player on Team USA at the age of 46, Mickelson jumped for joy after holing a birdie putt on the 18th in a thrilling singles match with Sergio Garcia, prompting light-hearted questions about the tendency for 'Lefty' to get off the ground, as he did upon winning the Masters 12 years ago.
"When I try to dunk a basketball, I jump pretty high," he said.
"I can touch the net. My arms are pretty long.
"I'm older now, so probably jumped higher a little bit in '04, because I got at least six inches off the ground then."