Watson defends pairings but admits ‘we were outplayed’

United States Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson conceded his team were outplayed on the opening day at Gleneagles but defended his decisions on pairings.

Watson defends pairings but admits ‘we were outplayed’

Having won the morning fourballs, finishing with a significant psychological advantage, he rested rookies Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed after their brilliant demolition of Ian Poulter and Stephen Gallacher. However, he kept faith with Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley for the foursomes and they were comfortably beaten.

“We were outplayed, I know that,” he said. “It started off looking pretty good and then we didn’t perform in the afternoon, it’s disappointing. The players are disappointed. I know the question is going to be asked about Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, whether I should have played them in the afternoon.

“I thought at the time it was the best decision not to play them. It was a decision my vice-captains and I felt very strongly for. I had some doubt in making that decision but my gut feeling said that was the right decision to make.

“When I told Patrick he wasn’t going to play in the afternoon I said ’How does that make you feel?’ and he said, ”Well, I’m all right with it.... Well, really, captain, I’m not all right with it’. I said ’That’s the way I want you to be’. You’re going to be second-guessed and obviously you’re going to second-guess me on that decision right there.”

Watson has rested Mickelson and Bradley for today’s fourballs to give them a break but will send them out in the afternoon. Mickelson’s coach Butch Harmon expressed surprise the 44-year-old had not been rested yesterday, however, while former European captain Colin Montgomerie felt it was a costly mistake.

“I was amazed that they (Spieth and Reed) were not playing in the afternoon and Phil and Keegan were,” he said. “For the youngsters in the team to be sat out... that decision could cost Tom Watson on Sunday afternoon.”

Watson defended his decision to put out what he thought was his reliable pairing for a second session. “Phil and Keegan missed a lot of putts and kind of blew themselves out of it,” he added.

“There are certain personal things (which) you don’t go into details and talk to the press about.

“They have done well in alternate-shot, and I had to give them a go.”

Of his decision to give them the morning off today he said: “It’s just common sense. They played 36 holes. They are tired. I’ll give them a break in the morning, get their legs back. They may not go together but they will go in the afternoon.”

Mickelson did not fully agree with Harmon’s assessment of his afternoon. “I don’t know the description I would use, I didn’t feel like I was out of gas as far as out of energy, but I stopped hitting good shots,” said the left-hander.

“I didn’t play very well in the afternoon. I ended up not making putts that I normally would make and hitting some shots that I haven’t been hitting. I didn’t play the best.”

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