European Ryder Cup captain Ian Woosnam’s selection policy and communication skills have been vehemently criticised by Thomas Bjorn (pictured) after the Danish star was overlooked for one of Woosnam’s wildcard picks ahead of this year’s renewal later this month.
Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke and England’s Lee Westwood were chosen as wildcards by Woosnam on Sunday evening, leaving Bjorn and several others bitterly disappointed to have missed out on Europe’s quest to retain the Ryder Cup at the K Club in Ireland. Tom Lehman’s US squad await the finalised European team in just under three weeks’ time.
Woosnam preferred Clarke and Westwood despite both men being behind Bjorn in the Official Golf World Rankings and the European Ryder Cup points list. The Dane, who has played in two Ryder Cups, was in no mood to hide his anger and disappointment at Woosnam as he reacted to the news yesterday.
“If Woosnam’s choice had been made on competitive results I could have gone along with it,” he said.
“But I’m in front of Lee in all the rankings, I have played better golf in the qualifying phase and then Woosnam bases his decisions on results that are more than five years old [a reference to Westwood winning at the K Club in 2000].”
Bjorn went on to criticise Woosnam’s handling of the situation and attacked the Welshman’s communication skills, which he claims were severely lacking throughout the qualifying period.
“I don’t understand the way he is handling the situation,” Bjorn continued.
“I hadn’t heard from him for six months and I have spoken to several of the players who are in the team and they haven’t heard from him either. To be captain and not even communicate with your team at all – it doesn’t show much respect. He came into the bar at the hotel on Sunday and gave me 20 seconds of talk about how Lee had won twice at the K Club. In a bar. That kind of sums it up. He can’t expect me to be happy – I’m very disappointed and I think he’s been poor in how he’s handled the players.”
Woosnam was unrepentent when quizzed about Bjorn’s outburst, but said that he was able to empathise with the Dane and that he hoped time would heal the obvious wounds.
“I missed out once and was very disappointed, but someone has to do the job of picking the team and it isn’t easy,” he said.
“It was very difficult when I got to the hotel on Sunday and told him – he was very disappointed. I feel sorry for the guys who have missed out but the real reason that I went for Lee is because of his record in the Ryder Cup. Hopefully when this blows over in time we can have a few beers over it.”
Westwood has won two events at the K Club and has played in four Ryder Cups. In 2004 at Oakland Hills he claimed four-and-a-half points out of five in Europe’s record victory.
The 36th Ryder Cup takes place at the K Club in Ireland from September 22/24. Log on to www.golf-monthly.co.uk for all the best build-up and coverage of the showpiece event.