Nick Matthew column: Likeable Mickelson made a mistake but we don’t want robots

Phil Mickelson, left, should not have criticised Tom Watson
Phil Mickelson, left, should not have criticised Tom Watson
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I was very surprised Phil Mickelson criticised USA captain Tom Watson after Europe retained the Ryder Cup.

I presumed Mickelson had been caught straight after he had come off the course and said it as a throw away comment to a journalist off the record.

So it did shock me when I learned Mickelson questioned Watson’s captaincy in a press conference while Watson was sitting along from him. To me, that seems like you are airing your dirty laundry in public. Mickelson left his captain to hang out to dry.

It’s not like a football team where Tom Watson is going to be the manager next week and he can drop you. Watson won’t lead the United States in two years time and maybe Mickelson was unhappy at being left out of Saturday’s action. I thought it was strange Watson didn’t play Mickelson. They might have fallen out over that but we don’t know what goes on behind the scenes.

Mickelson is one of my favourite golfers to watch. He is amazing. He’s got a great demeanour and you can’t help but like the guy because of the personality he brings to it. He is a likeable person so the way he has reacted to USA’s loss is out of character for him.

We have all said things we regret in the heat of the moment. I am always pushing for squash to get more publicity but there have been times throughout my career where I have actually been glad that something I’ve said has not got picked up on as much by the press.

Look at two-time grand slam tennis champion Andy Murray who has had a lot of stick for backing the Scottish independence ‘yes’ campaign. A few years ago people were complaining Murray had no personality and then he offers his opinion and gets slated for it so you can’t win. We don’t want our sports stars to be shy of having an opinion because then they would all be robots. It would be boring and would not give us anything to talk about.

*My thanks to Trevor Davies and Matthew Whitaker, the Business Manager at Sheffield Hallamshire Tennis & Squash Club, for helping organise a ‘Night With The Champions’ last Friday. It was a brilliant night. I had so much support from the club and we raised a lot of money for my legacy, academy and Sheffield Children’s Hospital. It’s the type of thing I want to make an annual event to leave a legacy in the city with the end goal to bring a big tournament back in Sheffield before I retire in a couple of years.