Sat, Sep 09, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Woosnam says Bjorn's outburst will boost team

AFP , KILDARE, IRELAND

Europe's Ryder Cup captain Ian Woosnam reckons Thomas Bjorn's outburst will only serve to make his team stronger for this month's clash with the US.

Bjorn labeled Woosnam's leadership as "pathetic" after he failed to pick up one of the Welshman's wild cards which went instead to Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood.

But Woosnam, giving his first reaction to the Dane's attack, said on Thursday: "It will make us stronger. It will make Lee more determined and Darren more determined. They're all professionals and once we get to the Ryder Cup, these things will be put to bed."

Bjorn has since apologized and been fined by the European Tour for his outburst, but his remarks led to questions being raised about Woosnam's perceived lack of communication with the players and his handling of the media.

Woosnam accepts he did not come across well in his press conference on Sunday evening and added on Sky Sports News: "I knew when I was standing there I was very nervous and I might not have come over very well."

"Deep down I was upset because I had to leave someone out and I knew it was going to hurt Thomas and I knew I was going to get some criticism," he said. "He has his right to say what he did about why he missed it. But it's a pity he had to do it like that. But he's apologized and the next thing we've got to do is get on, get back to Ireland and win the trophy."

Bjorn felt he should have been selected ahead of Westwood after performing better than the Englishman during the qualifying period, although Westwood can point to collecting four-and-a-half points in the record victory at Oakland Hills two years ago.

"I don't think I have to justify my position to anybody," Woosnam added.

"There's 10 spots that are automatic and they were filled and I have to make the next two choices. I could have gone from the next person down to 50th in the Order of Merit. But I made my choices and that's the privilege the captain gets," he said.

"It was a difficult decision but there were a lot of people in the frame. And I went with Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood," he said.

Woosnam was at the K Club on Thursday to play the course which hosts the Sept. 22-24 showdown with several members of his team, including Luke Donald, Clarke, David Howell and Jose Maria Olazabal.

Olazabal, who chose to miss the last qualifying event in Munich despite not being certain of his place in the team, said: "It was important that we got together and played the course, see how it is playing and now we are going to have a couple of beers and talk about it and see what Woosie has to say."

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