Embattled U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson has released an open letter in response to a report that the eight-time major champion had excoriated his players in a team meeting on the eve of the Ryder Cup singles matches.
In the statement issued Saturday evening, Watson says he takes "complete and full responsibility" for his reported comments, and that he regrets that his comments "may have made the players feel that I didn't appreciate their commitment and dedication to winning the Ryder Cup."
The statement continues with Watson acknowledging the team's effort last week in its disappointing 16.5-11.5 loss to the Europeans, saying he was "proud to get to know each and every one of them." Watson also writes that he had a productive conversation with Phil Mickelson earlier in the week, in which they gained a "better understanding of each other's perspectives."
On Friday, ESPN's Bob Harig reported accounts by unnamed witnesses that claimed the American captain took the opportunity at a Ryder team meeting to yell at his players, ridicule their European opponents and even mock a gift the team had given him to thank him for his captaincy.
You can read the full letter from Watson below.
OPEN LETTER FROM TOM WATSON, 2014 U.S. RYDER CUP CAPTAIN
In response to all of the recent discussion about our Ryder Cup loss, I would like to make a few comments.
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.
Our team certainly showed guts when it took it to the other team early in Sunday's singles matches. We were indeed tied with them as the scoreboard turned wonderfully "red." Our players started fast as I had asked them to in my comments the night before. I asked them to really concentrate on holes 2-5, as the Europeans had won too many early battles on these particular holes. 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.
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 honored I was to captain this talented group of golfers, and how privileged I was to spend the past two years working this labor of my love for the Ryder Cup.