GLENEAGLES Scotland (Reuters) - It was a weary-looking Tom Watson who tried to explain his team’s Friday afternoon collapse after Europe overturned a one-point deficit to end the opening day of the Ryder Cup with a 5-3 lead over the United States.
Watson was grilled by American reporters unhappy the captain rested Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed for the foursomes after the pair had marked their debuts in the event with a 5 & 4 fourball rout of Stephen Gallacher and Ian Poulter.
Earlier, the 21-year-old Spieth said he was 100 percent certain he would play two matches in the same day because Watson had told the team that any pairing that won in the morning would retain their places in the afternoon.
“I take the blame for that,” the U.S. skipper told a news conference. “I assessed that even though they won in the morning, that there maybe was a better team for the foursomes.
“I’m trying to make the best decisions at that time that I possibly can with the best information I have. It’s a collective decision but the final decision is with me and that decision not to play them was a hard decision.
“I had some doubt in making that decision but my gut feeling said that was the right decision to make. You’re never fully certain because you just don’t know the outcome, you can’t predict it,” added Watson.
“I’m disappointed with the results this afternoon but I’m not disappointed with the attitude of the team...now I’m going to go back to the team room, have some food with the players and have an early night.”
Watson seemed to suggest there were hidden reasons for his decision to rest Spieth and Reed.
“There are certain personal things ... but you don’t go into details and talk to the press about them,” said the 65-year-old.
Watson tried to lighten the mood by revealing a conversation he had with the 24-year-old Reed after the morning round.
“When I told Patrick he wasn’t going to play in the afternoon it was comical at the time, not so comical now maybe,” explained the captain.
“I said, ‘How does that make you feel?’. At first he said, ‘Well, I’m all right with it’. Then he said, ‘Well, really, captain, I’m not all right with it’.
“I said, ‘That’s the way I want you to be’.”
Watson refused to panic about his team’s deficit.
“The players are disappointed but I told them in the locker room, ‘it’s 5-3, that’s two sessions gone’,” he added.
“If you win two matches you’re back to even, if you win four you’re up by two, that’s the way this Ryder Cup works.
“Yeah we’re behind but the pairings that have been made for tomorrow morning I think are strong pairings, as strong as we can put out there, and we’ll see what happens.”
Editing by Tim Collings