Ryder Cup Logo Ryder Cup: Team USASeptember 22-24 2006, The K Club, Straffan, County Kildare, Ireland
Story Image Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods compared equipment on Wednesday. (Photo: Getty Images)

We'll learn from our previous mistakes, says Mickelson

Ex-Captain Hal Sutton did the right thing by pairing Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in 2004, Mickelson believes, and stresses that you have to be willing to fail before you can find out whether something will succeed.

September 20, 2006

STRAFFAN, Ireland (PA) -- Phil Mickelson believes the Americans can recapture the Ryder Cup this week by learning from their past mistakes.

Europe has won four of the last five meetings and actually head into the event at the K Club near Dublin as favorites for the first time in more than a decade.

Much has been made of the need for the Americans to have a good start on Friday, especially considering the way Europe began two years ago with three and a half points in the morning fourballs. That, of course, was when Captain Hal Sutton paired Tiger Woods and Mickelson with disappointing results.

Lehman will not make the same decision, but Mickelson claims it was necessary at Oakland Hills.

"We wanted to play together, we just didn't play well. You learn by trial and error," Mickelson said. "We thought we were going to come out and get some points and lead us on and it didn't obviously turn out that way. You have to be willing to take risks and be willing to fail at times to learn how to succeed."

The Masters champion is in his sixth Ryder Cup and, with some veterans absent this week, he stands out as one of the most experienced players. The 36-year-old accepts he has a greater responsibility to the team, but believes the team has a different dynamic without the bigger names.

"It is certainly awkward for some of us not to have the likes of Davis Love, Fred Couples and Justin Leonard -- some of the great players on the U.S. side that didn't make it," Mickelson said. "We're used to having those guys. But we also have some great new guys and they are a terrific assets to the team."

Mickelson is meticulous in his preparation -- he spent two hours on the putting green after his 18 holes on Tuesday -- but admitted he enjoyed Wednesday's knockabout practice.

With Lehman suggesting that the whole side work on their short games because of the high winds, all 12 players met up on the seventh hole to skim balls across the lake onto the green before they all teed off together on the ninth.

"We hit a lot of fun shots, skipping a shot over the water at seven. We had a good time," said the three-time major winner. "We were able to not overdo it in this weather. Sometimes it can be tough when you get such strong winds, balls are blowing 60 yards off line so rather than fight it we had fun with it."

Copyright 2006 PA Sport. All rights reserved.

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