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Jack Nicklaus Defends Tom Watson, Calls Ryder Cup Task Force ‘Overkill’

Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus

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Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus at the first tee of the 2014 Ryder Cup in Scotland.

Jack Nicklaus defended his friend and former rival Tom Watson’s Ryder Cup captaincy and said the PGA of America’s new task force is “overkill,” according to Brian Biggane of the Palm Beach Post.

“[The Europeans] just played better,” Nicklaus said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the official reopening of the Champion course at PGA National Resort. “It doesn’t make any difference how much planning you do, if the other team plays better, they’re going to win.”

Watson was roundly criticized for poor decision-making and not connecting with his players following Team USA’s 16.5-11.5 loss to the Europeans, but Nicklaus said he’d never seen a captain prepare as much for the Ryder Cup as Watson did.

“He went to I don’t know how many tournaments — he knew he was older, so he had to get to know the kids, who he was going to pick, and what to do. Tom, Raymond (Floyd), Andy North and Steve Stricker made the selections and pairings, did what they thought was best, and probably did a pretty good job.”

Although he didn’t mention Phil Mickelson by name, Nicklaus also said he was disappointed that team members took shots at Watson in public, instead of bringing up issues in the team room. (Mickelson made sharply critical comments about Watson’s captaincy at Team USA’s loser’s press conference.)

“When I had teams and guys had problems, we went back to the team room and talked about it. That’s where the conversation should be. (And) I feel the same about the task force thing. That’s sort of overkill. We’ve had 70 years of the Ryder Cup and it’s gotten along just fine. The pendulum will swing back without making a monumental thing about it.”

(ALAN SHIPNUCK: United We Stand?)

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