Phil Mickelson's pointed criticism of Tom Watson's captaincy moments after the latest U.S. Ryder Cup defeat spurred expansive debate about the entire American Ryder Cup process. Now it has led to the formation of an official task force, which will include Mickelson, as well as Tiger Woods.
Eleven people will serve on the committee that was announced Tuesday morning by the PGA of America, which administers the U.S. Ryder Cup team. Pete Bevacqua, the PGA of America's chief executive officer, will co-chair the task force along with Derek Sprague, the PGA of America's vice president.
The group also will include recent Ryder Cup players Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker and former U.S. captains Raymond Floyd, Tom Lehman and Davis Love III. PGA secretary Paul Levy also was named.
Notably not included is Paul Azinger, the captain of the winning Ryder Cup team in 2008. He has done many interviews since the 161/2-111/2 loss at Gleneagles in Scotland last month denouncing the PGA of America and advocating a new strategy for turning around a program that has lost eight of the past 10 biennial competitions against Europe.
He told ESPN Tuesday that he did not feel like being on the task force so soon after this past Ryder Cup. He says he will meet with the PGA next month.
In the post-match news conference, Mickelson made controversial comments about the captaincy of Watson, who was sitting on the same dais. Mickelson did not specifically name him. Mickelson, benched for the Saturday matches, cited the success of Azinger's "pod" system in 2008, in which the team was divided into small units. He also said the players had been shut out of decision-making during this Cup.
Mickelson received much support in articles and commentaries. But he also was criticized by Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, who called it "a one-man mutiny" and described Mickelson's self-interested words as an illustration of why the U.S. keeps losing the team competition.
Watson, having been chosen for his old-school discipline after Love's softer approach led to a Sunday collapse at Medinah in 2012, issued an open letter accepting responsibility for the defeat. He said that he had a long, frank discussion with Mickelson. The latter's inclusion on the task force indicates that the PGA of America holds no grudge against the golfer.
Woods, who missed both the 2008 and 2014 Ryder Cups because of injuries, said in a statement: "I think this is a great step by the PGA to accomplish what we all want -- to win the Ryder Cup. The Ryder Cup is very important to every player who has the honor to represent his country. I'm excited to be part of this group."