Time for a change with Team USA

GLENEAGLES, Scotland -- Well, the USA lost the Ryder Cup. And birds chirp. And Starbucks serves lattes. And Ian Poulter wears hair product.

What else is new? Every two years, the Americans get waxed and buffed by the Europeans. The USA team arrives humming "The Star-Spangled Banner," and leaves with "O-le, o-le, o-le, o-le," ringing in its ears.

Sunday's defeat was the eighth out of the last 10 for the Americans. But it's even worse when they play in Europe. The USA hasn't won on European soil since Normandy -- or, at least, it feels like it. It's bad enough to get dinged on the exchange rate, but this, too?

Tom Watson's team tried. The Americans always try. But trying isn't the same as winning. And one of these days, the USA has to figure out a way to start winning Ryder Cups again.

"Listen, the Europeans kicked our butt," Watson said.

We know that. What we didn't know is that Watson and veteran Ryder Cup member Phil Mickelson didn't see eye to eye when it came to management styles. But the differences of opinion revealed themselves publicly in an awkward, sometimes uncomfortable post-defeat news conference where you could hear pins -- and jaws -- drop.

The nutshell version is this: Mickelson was asked about the methods used in 2008 to give the USA its last Ryder Cup victory. That team was captained by Paul Azinger and featured a system of grouping four players into three separate "pods." The pods, so goes the thinking, encourage team unity and causes the players to invest in the process and in one another.

"Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups," said Mickelson evenly, but with Watson sitting only a few seats away on the dais. "And we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best."

Asked, in essence, if the players were part of Watson's management process, Mickelson said, "Uh, no. No, nobody here was in any decision. So, no."

It was a stunning moment. No USA player has played in more Ryder Cup matches than Mickelson. So when he questioned the logic of Watson, and by association, 2012 captain Davis Love III and 2010 captain Corey Pavin -- and does so in a public setting and not long after the latest loss -- it carried considerable weight.

The 65-year-old Watson stared wearily ahead as Mickelson spoke. Asked if he thought Mickelson was being "disloyal," Watson said, "Not at all. ... That's OK. My management philosophy is different than his."

It was bizarre, odd and surprisingly candid. But most of all, it was revealing. If Mickelson felt this way, how many others on the team shared his feelings?

Nobody really expected Team USA to leave Gleneagles with the Cup. The Europeans were overwhelming favorites and, as it turned out, they were overwhelming winners.

It was going to take a golf miracle for the Americans to win this thing. They needed a Lake Placid, a Brookline, a reverse-Medinah to pull off the comeback.

It didn't happen. Not even close. Down 10-6 to begin Sunday, they made a tiny bit of noise early and then vanished into the irrelevance of a 16 ½-11 ½ defeat. Irrelevance stinks.

The default reaction is to blame someone wearing red, white and blue. And in this case, some of it is deserved.

Blame Watson -- both of them. Captain Tom might have done all of his Ryder Cup homework, but he failed the final exam. He miscalculated on Friday (he benched his hottest team, Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth, for the afternoon matches), he miscalculated on Saturday (he benched Mickelson the entire day) and, by his own admission, he miscalculated by playing players who were too tired to perform.

By Sunday, it barely mattered what he did.

Watson didn't lose this Ryder Cup by himself, but his 2014 captaincy leaves no fingerprints, no legacy. He came, he saw, he lost. Mickelson's comments only accentuated the defeat.

Meanwhile, Bubba Watson didn't win as much as a half-point in his three matches. Some of it was bad timing (he played extremely well in Saturday morning's four-ball match but ran into the USA woodchopper known as Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson), and some of it was simply indifferent play.

He wasn't alone. Tom Watson's three captain's picks -- Hunter Mahan, Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley -- were a combined 2-5-2.

Spieth was 3 up in his singles match against Graeme McDowell ... and lost. Mahan was up by four against Rose ... and could only halve the match. Bubba, Rickie Fowler and Bradley never had a chance.

And did I mention that the USA's three top-ranked players -- Bubba, Jim Furyk and Matt Kuchar -- finished 2-9?

But if you really want to blame somebody for the continued American beatdowns, blame Team Europe. You don't win eight out of 10 by luck. You win it because your team adapts better, plays better, steps on necks better.

The Europeans are amazing. It doesn't matter if they're playing in Scotland or the States, behind or ahead, favored or underdogs. Both teams have heart, but the Europeans' hearts thump a little louder.

"They kicked our butts," Watson said again. "That's the bottom line."

Something has to change. If it doesn't, you're going to see a lessening of interest in the Ryder Cup. After all, there's only so many times you can watch your dog get zapped by the electric fence.

For starters, the PGA of America needs to bring back the guy who actually knows how to win one of these things: Azinger. He led the USA to that last victory, way back at Valhalla in 2008. What's the harm in asking if he'd re-up?

I'm not the only one who thinks this. Minutes after Europe clinched the Ryder Cup, former USA player Jason Dufner tweeted, @PaulAzinger #2016.

And if Zinger wants to remain a one-and-done captain, then how about Fred Couples? All he has done is win three Presidents Cups. Wait, I forgot: the politics of the PGA of America and the PGA Tour (which oversees the Presidents Cup) would be problematic. Answer: screw politics.

Or how about a total out-of-the-box candidate: Mickelson?

"Oh, no, no -- I've been on eight losing teams," he said, adding that he wouldn't consider such a thing until "way off in the future."

As a last resort, maybe it's time to explore expedited U.S. citizenship for Paul McGinley, Jose Maria Olazabal or Bernhard Langer. Or see if Pete Carroll, Gregg Popovich or Nick Saban want to convert to golf.

And while we're changing things, can someone please ask Michael Jordan and his cigars to stay home? The last thing Team USA needs is another guy who hasn't won a championship since the late 1990s.

Enough is enough. The Americans have won the Ryder Cup once this century. Once. Any longer and they'll forget how to spray champagne.

The Europeans haven't forgotten. They doused each other. They danced. They celebrated.

Team USA did what it usually does these days. It watched.