Tom Watson: US players need to support each other better in Ryder Cup

Tom Watson has warned that infighting in the United States camp will only play into Europe’s hands in the rescheduled Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in September.

Tom Watson, the US captain at the time, speaks to the media during the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. Picture: Jamie Squire/Getty Images.
Tom Watson, the US captain at the time, speaks to the media during the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. Picture: Jamie Squire/Getty Images.

Steve Stricker, who is set to captain the American team in his home state of Wisconsin, looks to have a major problem on his hands due to a strained relationship between Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka

As he was conducting a television interview during the recent US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, Koepka rolled his eyes then swore after DeChambeau said something on his way past in the background.

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The pair, who appear to have had problems with each other for the past couple of years, then continued their spat after DeChambeau had been teamed up with Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers quarterback, against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady, another NFL player, in an upcoming made-for-TV match.

“Sorry bro,” wrote Koepka in a tweet tagging Rodgers, inferring that he’d drawn the short straw, to which US Open champion DeChambeau replied to the four-time major winner through the social media channel: “It’s nice to be living rent free in your head!”

Watson, a winning captain at The Belfry in 1993 before losing on his return to the post at Gleneagles in 2014, was asked about the situation between two of Stricker’s strongest players as he talked all things golf in teeing up next year’s 150th Open at St Andrews.

“I knew you would ask that question!” he said, smiling. “You're all the same. Shame on you. You know I'm not going to answer that question.”

However, the 71-year-old was more than happy to offer his views on why he felt Europe had been the dominant force in the Ryder Cup in recent times, having come out on top seven times in the last nine editions of the bi-ennial event.

“The thing about being a Ryder Cup captain is that you hope that 10 of the 12 players are playing close to their best. You're going to have two players who are not playing very well, for sure. You hope you don't have four players not playing well,” he said.

“The dirty little secret of the Ryder Cup is that you might go in there playing well, but the pressure causes you not to play well. There is so much more pressure playing in the Ryder Cup.

“I've seen it playing on the team and as captain. The pressure gets to the players and they don't perform. As a captain, you've got to assess who is playing the best to try to team them up.”

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Watson, who, according to Phil Mickelson, had his own problems in the team room at Gleneagles as the Americans suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of Paul McGinley’s side, added: “What I love about the Europeans is that their team lifts itself up.

“Together, they keep it light and they keep the pressure from really grabbing hold of them. But it does. I think they do it better than the American team does.

“What I suggest to the American team is that you've got to lift yourself up. You've got to be strong supporters of each other going forward to be successful. You need that backup from your fellow players.”

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