• Watson follows up with open letter on Ryder Cup website.
• "I take complete and full responsibility for my communication."
• Separate report hints Bill Haas had been in line for wild card.
2014 RYDER CUP
The fall-out from the USA’s latest Ryder Cup defeat took a few more dramatic twists and turns at the weekend.
A report from top golf journalist Bob Harig appeared on ESPN.com, quoting multiple sources, who had been in the American team room on the Saturday night of this year’s match at Gleneagles.
Trailing 10-6, the US side was still ‘fairly upbeat’, according to Harig’s report, until captain Tom Watson told them: “You stink at foursomes.”
He subsequently praised the rookie pairing of Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth before going through the Sunday singles pairings, whereupon he reportedly ridiculed several members of the European Tour.
The eight-time major winner was then presented with a gift by one of the senior members of the side, Jim Furyk – a replica of the Ryder Cup trophy that was signed by every member of the team.
However, instead of thanking the players for their present, Watson is alleged to have told them that the gift meant nothing to him if they didn’t win the real trophy the following day.
Harig’s report also revealed that Phil Mickelson – widely condemned for a thinly-veiled criticism of Watson in the losing team’s press conference – changed the mood of the Saturday night meeting when he told his teammates to ‘give this a go tomorrow’. According to one of Harig’s sources, he ‘gave almost 180 degrees difference than what Tom did’.
Shortly after Harig’s report was published, Watson issued an open letter, published on the Ryder Cup website.
“In response to all of the recent discussion about our Ryder Cup loss, I would like to make a few comments,” he wrote.
Phil is a great player, has great passion and I admire what he's done for golf.” - Tom Watson, 2014 US Ryder Cup captain
“First, I take complete and full responsibility for my communication, and I regret that my words may have made the players feel that I didn't appreciate their commitment and dedication to winning the Ryder Cup. My intentions throughout my term as captain were both to inspire and to be honest.
“Secondly, the guys gave everything. They played their hearts out. I was proud to get to know each and every one of them. I know they are all going to win tournaments, be on future Ryder Cup teams and have wonderful careers.”
Addressing Mickelson’s comments, Watson added: “I completely understand his reaction in the moment. Earlier this week I had an open and candid conversation with him and it ended with a better understanding of each other's perspectives. Phil's heart and intentions for our team's success have always been in the right place. Phil is a great player, has great passion and I admire what he's done for golf.”
He signed off saying: “The bottom line is this. I was their captain. In hindsight, whatever mistakes that were made were mine. And I take complete and full responsibility for them. I want to say again to the players, their families, the PGA and our country how proud and honoured I was to captain this talented group of golfers, and how privileged I was to spend the past two years working this labour of my love for the Ryder Cup.”
Golfweek’s Alex Miceli then filed a report yesterday in which yet more sources revealed that former FedExCup winner Bill Haas was set to be one of Watson’s three wild cards under he was talked round by Webb Simpson.
Former US Open champion Simpson got the nod ahead of Haas but, after losing on the opening morning at Gleneagles alongside Bubba Watson, he was benched and didn’t reappear until the Sunday singles.
The USA's 16.5-11.5 Ryder Cup loss at Gleneagles was their eighth in the last ten matches and their third in succession. An announcement on a replacement for Watson is expected to be announced by the PGA of America before the year is out, with Steve Stricker an early favourite to lead the team into the 2016 match at Hazeltine.
The USA's latest disastrous Ryder Cup
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