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Paul McGinley defends under-fire Tom Watson

The US skipper had to deal with ‘body blows’ like Tiger’s withdrawal according to the Dubliner.

United States captain Tom Watson and Europe captain Paul McGinley.
United States captain Tom Watson and Europe captain Paul McGinley.
Image: AFP/Getty Images

PAUL MCGINLEY BELIEVES criticism of Tom Watson is unfair given the “body blows” the United States Ryder Cup captain had to contend with.

Watson came under fire following Europe’s resounding 16 1/2 to 11 1/2 victory at Gleneagles last month.

While McGinley was hailed as one of Europe’s finest captains, Watson’s leadership was called into question, with Phil Mickelson - a senior figure on the US team – bemoaning his country’s approach to the event.

Dubliner McGinley has leapt to the defence of eight-time major winner Watson, pointing out that the legendary 65-year-old was dealt some significant setbacks before the showpiece event.

“Tom had to suffer a number of blows as captain.” said McGinley, who took time away from his preparation for this week’s Portugal Masters to speak to Perform at the opening of the re-designed North Course at the Quinta do Lago resort .

“Losing Dustin Johnson and Tiger Woods being injured were two massive blows. And then [FedEx Cup champion] Billy Horschel going on to play as well as he did in the weeks after Tom made his picks.

“Those were three difficult things for Tom to absorb and I think people are losing a bit of sight of that. There were some body blows to the American team, while we were sailing.

“We had Rory [McIlory] playing as well as he did and being established firmly as world number one, with Martin [Kaymer] winning the US Open, with guys like Jamie Donaldson winning his last counting event to make the team.

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“We were really flying and our team were really in form.”

McGinley relished the opportunity to pit his wits against his idol and insisted he was not aware of any discontent in the US team as he plotted their downfall.

“I really enjoyed being around him [Watson], but in terms of what went on I’m not privy to it and, to be quite honest, I don’t want to know what went on.” he added.

“We were much more concerned.. 99 per cent of what I did concerned the European team and I wasn’t really that bothered with what the American team were doing in terms of pairings.

“I knew that they were going to be strong and we’d have to be on it that if we were going to win that Ryder Cup.”

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