Phil Mickelson benched at Ryder Cup

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

GLENEAGLES, Scotland -- For the first time in 10 appearances, Phil Mickelson spent an entire day at the Ryder Cup without hitting a single shot.

U.S. captain Tom Watson benched Mickelson and Keegan Bradley for both sessions Saturday at Gleneagles, even though both wanted to play. Joining them on the sidelines was Webb Simpson, the last of the three captain's picks.

Mickelson and Bradley rallied to take down Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia in the opening session of fourballs matches Friday, but they lost badly in foursomes when Bradley couldn't keep it in the short grass and Mickelson couldn't make enough putts.

"They didn't perform all that well yesterday afternoon," Watson said. "They really wanted to go today. These are the best pairings for alternate shot."

Mickelson will play only three matches this week, his fewest since going 3-0 as a rookie at Oak Hill in 1995.

Asked to comment as he walked down the first fairway, Mickelson said, "Whatever it takes to win."

"I want our team to win, and whatever we have to do is all I care about," he said.

When asked whose decision it was not to play, Mickelson smiled and put in his ear phones to listen to coverage of other matches on the radio.

Mickelson and Bradley formed America's best team two years ago at Medinah when they went 3-0, asking to sit out the final session to be fresh for singles. Both wound up losing their singles matches as Europe rallied from a 10-6 deficit to win.

They made it four in a row Friday by rallying to take down Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia with an eagle-par-birdie finish. But the pair struggled in foursomes.

Watson was second-guessed for not giving them a rest Friday afternoon. They got plenty of rest on Saturday.

The Americans, who won two matches and halved another in Saturday morning fourballs, sent out Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler for a fourth straight match. They had halved all three of their matches.

"I'm riding the horses," Watson said. "Jimmy and Rickie really played well. Three times they halved matches. That's better than not winning."

Mickelson, a five-time major champion, has not won a tournament since the British Open last summer at Muirfield, though he finished one shot behind McIlroy in the PGA Championship last month at Valhalla.

Bradley has gone more than two years without winning, and he had to rely on a captain's pick to make this team.

Two of Watson's three picks -- Bradley and Simpson -- did not play at all on Saturday. Simpson, who said he texted Watson the morning of the picks to lobby for one, will go into Sunday singles having played only 14 holes on Friday morning.