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Angry Tom Watson turned USA Ryder Cup meeting ugly, prompted Phil Mickelson critique

The hits keep coming for Tom Watson in the fallout from the US team's Ryder Cup implosion and their unraveling at a post-event press conference.

Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson's angry and confrontational tenor in a Saturday night team room meeting was a precipitating reason for Phil Mickelson's public criticism last week in Scotland, according to a report from ESPN's Bob Hairg.

It's likely that bits and pieces of the disastrous Ryder Cup weekend for the USA leak out in slow drips over the next few months, and Harig's report provides a significant part of the story.

The team rooms at these events are generally cheery or intensely positive, vacillating from a place to relax to one to keep the players focused and motivated. The motivation usually comes from team-bonding and positive reinforcement, which is what we assumed was bandied around as the USA sat 10-6 down with one Sunday singles session to go -- plotting a comeback and plenty of "this ain't over" pep talks.

Instead, the scene turned ugly when Watson ripped into his team, starting with "You stink at Foursomes." At the time, it wasn't inaccurate -- the USA had just come off a second straight afternoon foursomes drubbing. That format decided the Cup. But Watson's rotation mismanagement also played a part, and still, that's not the best way to open a meeting with designs on a comeback.

It got worse from there. According to Harig's report, Watson mocked and ridiculed several of the of the European players in the Sunday singles lineup. Then the captain blew off a gift from the whole team. From Harig:

Watson went through the Sunday singles pairings and ridiculed several members of the European side as he went through the matchups. Soon after, Watson was presented a gift by Furyk, a replica of the Ryder Cup trophy that was signed by every member of the team. Instead of thanking them, the sources said Watson said the gift meant nothing to him if the players didn't get the real Ryder Cup on Sunday and that he wanted to be holding it aloft on the green in victory.

Said one of the sources: "That's almost verbatim. He said it basically means nothing to me.''

Added another: "It was fairly shocking that he treated this thoughtful gift with such disdain.''

Harig's sources added that Mickelson was one of several assistant captains and team members who addressed the team after Watson's hostile leadoff. Mickelson went last, and addressed each player individually, telling a story about all 11 teammates. The comments a day later during that extremely tense and awkward press conference in full view of the public were something he did "for a lot of people."

It's pretty clear Harig's soucres fall on Phil's side, and we knew there was more than one team member not pleased with Watson's approach, both in tangible strategy and in the relationship-building aspects of his captaincy. Are there any on Watson's side? I suspect we'll get more anti-Watson bits as the distance from this disaster widens. But this big scoop from Harig only adds to the narrative that Watson's captaincy was a spectacular failure.