If there wasn’t enough hype already about the upcoming Ryder Cup, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy added some fodder for the press with some well intended trash talking. Mickelson took a stab at McIlroy when asked by a reporter if one of the reasons the Americans haven’t done so well in previous Ryder Cup’s was because they weren’t close and didn’t play well together. Mickelson replied with, “Not only are we able to play together, but we also don’t litigate against each other. So that’s a real plus.” Of course he was referring to an on-going lawsuit between McIlroy and Horizon Sports Management, where (McIlroy’s) European Ryder Cup team mate Graeme McDowell is an alleged (by McIlroys attorneys) shareholder. Mickelson was obviously joking, and it seemed everyone got it, but you can bet this will not be the last we hear about it.
The lawsuit between McIlroy and his former management company has already been forefront in the press, raising some questions as to whether McDowell could be paired together with the associated legal tension. McDowell on one occasion said, he didn’t see it as a problem, and wouldn’t mind playing the second (alternating) shot off McIlroys drives. He stated that they are actually good friends.
McIlroy made his own splash with the media when asked about Tiger not being in this year’s Ryder Cup. In so many words, McIlroy stated that the Ryder Cup was bigger than Tiger Woods and they would fare well without him. This is obviously all very true, but the media has already began circulating the comments that are sure to gain momentum as this year’s Ryder Cup unfolds.
The amount of information and media coverage that is cultivated leading up to and surrounding this event grows with with each Ryder Cup. All the back stories, the ranking comparisons, the captains picks on both sides, the pairings, the possible scenarios for wins and losses, and the opinions of media personnel leave the public with little to imagine. It’s all good for the sport and the event! But, a little trash talking goes a long way for spicing up the coverage and the competition. Getting into an opponent’s head has always been good strategy in most any competition. It is hard to tell if that is what is at the root of Mickelson’s and McIlroy’s comments, but they have certainly ignited the press with even more cannon fodder. The comments made by both could backfire if the media continually hammers them with questions about their comments. It could be yet another distraction added to an already intense atmosphere.