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Mickelson taunts McIlroy and McDowell

PHIL Mickelson has taken a good-natured pot shot at the relationship between European teammates Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell.

PHIL Mickelson could not resist a good-natured jibe at European stars Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell.

Asked about US teamwork, Mickelson made a mild poke at world No.1 McIlroy's lawsuit against his former management agency, which still works with teammate McDowell.

"Not only are we able to play together, we also don't litigate against each other and that's a real plus, I feel, heading into this week," Mickelson said on Wednesday.

"I couldn't resist. Sorry."

Both McIlroy and McDowell said this week they have become closer friends since putting the matter behind them, but Mickelson clearly didn't mind a barb at their expense.

"We hear a lot of those one-liners in practice rounds so it's nothing new to me," Mickelson's teammate Rickie Fowler said.

"I don't see it affecting them."

But US captain Tom Watson likes the spirit behind Mickelson's words.

"Phil has been just a wonderful man in the locker room," Watson said.

"He's a leader. He's the guy that talks. He talks smack. He talks the locker room talk and he gets people talking back to him. That's what you have to do."

Mickelson, the 44-year-old left-hander, is set to become the first American to play in 10 Ryder Cups and will move within one of Englishman Nick Faldo's all-time record of Ryder Cup's played.

The US squad, losers in seven of the past nine meetings, will attempt to win in Europe for the first time since 1993.

"It has been an exciting event for me over the years," Mickelson said.

"As I look back over my career, it's the Ryder Cups and team events I've been on that really provide the great memories, great experiences and accomplishments I like to reflect back on."

Mickelson's five career major titles gives him a locker room banter battle trump card in the absence of 14-time major winner Tiger Woods, US teammate Matt Kuchar said.

"Phil Mickelson throws down the ultimate gauntlet when he doesn't have a comeback to whatever you've said," Kuchar said.

"He just says, 'Well, I've won so many majors, suck on that.' He can only say that if Tiger's not around. He kind of has to look over both shoulders and make sure because then Tiger gives him his number. I do find that to be a fun one going back and forth."

AAP

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