Ryder Cup: US plan overhaul as Watson takes blame

Tom Watson: Accepted blame. Picture: Jane Barlow

Tom Watson: Accepted blame. Picture: Jane Barlow

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AMERICAN Ryder Cup bosses are to carry out a comprehensive review of everything concerning the event after the fall-out from last weekend’s defeat at Gleneagles took another twist as US captain Tom Watson penned an open letter accepting “full responsibility” for any mistakes.

Since losing 16½-11½ in Perthshire – the eighth defeat by Europe in the last ten matches for the US team – a barrage of criticism has been aimed at Watson, who initially pointed the finger of blame at his players
but has now performed a dramatic climbdown.

It came as Ted Bishop, the outgoing PGA of America President, revealed that a task force of former US captains and current players would be assembled in a bid to come up with a system similar to the one that has worked so successfully for Europe in the transatlantic tussle.

“I take complete and full responsibility for my communication,” said Watson, whose style of captaincy was criticised by Phil Mickelson in the immediate aftermath of last weekend’s defeat, and who has since been accused of snubbing a gift from his players. “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.

“The guys gave everything. They played their hearts out. But, in the end, the facts are that the other team played better. My hat’s off and congratulations to them.

“As for Phil’s comments, 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.”

Watson, the event’s oldest captain at 65, was unable to repeat the victory he pulled off at The Belfry in 1993 in his first stint, and added: “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.”

Mickelson, who was left out of both sessions on the Saturday by Watson, has been criticised himself for airing his views in a press conference with his captain sitting just a few feet away. In an interview yesterday with BBC 5 Live’s Sportsweek, Bishop, the man who engineered Watson’s appointment, questioned the timing but refused to be over-

critical of Mickelson, adding that he would make a “great” captain in future.

“He’s passionate about the Ryder Cup and he feels that there needs to be some changes going forward and I think Phil would undoubtedly say that, if what he said on Sunday night helps propagate some

of those changes, then he probably would be okay with it,” said Bishop.

Having seen the bold move to bring back Watson fail at Gleneagles, Bishop conceded it was now time for the PGA

of America to put its entire Ryder Cup structure under the microscope before the 2016 match at Hazeltine.

“From a United States standpoint, just really blowing the model up and starting completely over and trying to get some people involved who, as Phil said, are invested in the process,” he said of what lies ahead.

“We need to have the input of players.

“Players need to feel good about where we’re going with this. With every step of the way there’s an opportunity for good things to happen.

“The PGA of America is in a pretty deep analysis right now about trying to really change our Ryder Cup model going forward and if this precipitates some changes that’s probably a good thing.

“The first thing we’re probably going to do is assemble a task force that’s comprised of some former Ryder Cup captains, some current Ryder Cup players along with a handful of PGA of America officials.

“I think we’re going to take a complete review of everything concerning the Ryder Cup beginning with the way we pick a captain. Secondly would be the way that we pick the players that are going to be on that team.

“I think that we’re at a point where we need to really analyse a lot of different things. Not that we’re necessarily trying to mimic or copy what Ryder Cup Europe is doing but they certainly have developed a formula of success.

“There’s some consistencies that they utilise from Ryder Cup to Ryder Cup that have paid off for them so we can certainly, probably, steal a page from their book.”

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