European captain Thomas Bjorn has vehemently denied that he was making any political points during his speech this afternoon’s Ryder Cup opening ceremony.
The Dane remarked at the official curtain-raiser at Le Golf National that Europe “can be a fragmented place”, adding: “This is one of the few weeks that, under this flag, Europe is united”.
The remarks drew gasps from some members of the crowd and, when he met the media afterwards, it was put to Bjorn that it sounded as though he was "deliberately addressing the people of the UK".
Absolutely and categorically not the case, he insisted.
"Not at all," he said. "Just remember one thing: I've lived 15 years of my life in England, and England is my home and I love the country. I love living there. I have an English girlfriend and it is my home, and it would probably be very difficult for me to see any time in the future coming out of that country.
"So I love everything about that country. But I am a European, and I'm Danish by birth, and I believe in the things that I believe in, but that doesn't mean that I believe in the European Union or not.
"I'm not addressing the people of the United Kingdom in any way, shape or form in this. I'm addressing what we are in the European team room."
Pointing at a yellow and blue ribbon on his lapel, Bjorn added: "Trust me, if you look at all of the United Kingdom players that are in this team, they were that today because, this week, that's what they represent.
"As I said in the speech, as well, that - for us - represents the boundaries of Europe this week. It doesn't represent the European Union."
Bjorn also pointed to his long-standing support of the European Tour as an example of his passion for the Continent.
"I've been focussed solely on that tour and I'm very proud of that," he added. "I'm very proud of this part of the world as a Continent. I'm very proud of what we are.
"I always feel like when I get into a Ryder Cup team, it brings out the best in Europeans. That is what we are. We are cross nations. We have different cultural backgrounds. We believe in different thing but, when we get on that team, we are proud of being European. It's forgotten that we have so much in common.
"That's my opinion. Not everybody shares that opinion but that's my opinion. I felt like I wanted to portray what we are as a team to the people that were watching."