Bjorn fined £10,000 for attack on captain Woosnam

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Thomas Bjorn, whose disappointment at being left out of the Ryder Cup team descended into a torrent of personal abuse directed at the Europe captain Ian Woosnam, has been fined a sum believed to be £10,000.

Despite a sincere apology to Woosnam and to the European Tour, Bjorn has been told by the executive director, George O'Grady, that they will not tolerate the "personal and unacceptable remarks" made about Woosnam. O'Grady said: "We take this matter extremely seriously and on this occasion Thomas accepts that his immense disappointment caused him to make spontaneous but inappropriate comments."

He added that Bjorn, whom O'Grady called "a passionate and outstanding supporter of the European tour", had accepted the fine and the episode was closed.

Woosnam preferred Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke to Bjorn as wild cards for the Ryder Cup, which starts on 22 September at the K Club in Co Kildare, Ireland. In apologising for his outburst, Bjorn stated: "I realise I have made a mistake,and have unreservedly apologised to Ian for the hurtful and personal nature of my comments, which were made in the heat of the moment following the disappointment of not making it into the European team. I realise it is 100 per cent the captain's choice and, in Lee and Darren, I believe he has picked two great players."

Bjorn's big mistake was to personalise his criticism. It is one thing to be upset about being left out of a team you believe you should be in; quite another to call its captain "pathetic, the worst ever" and accuse him of being "unburdened by leadership qualities".

The Dane's rant was born of the belief that Woosnam should have told him personally that he was being left out. In it, Bjorn said: "I haven't spoken to him in six months and then I find out I'm not in team by watching television. I have nothing against Lee Westwood but if you can find one category in which he has beaten me I would like to see it. [Woosnam has] been very poor the way he's handled the players. He's put a lot of them through a lot of misery because he is incapable of doing the right thing."

Bjorn would undoubtedly have been an asset to this year's Ryder Cup team but it is the European Tour's rules, which he as a member of the tournament committee helps to formulate, that decree that the captain should get only two picks. Now that committee has decided the size of the fine that the Dane should pay.

The Spaniard Sergio Garcia, who had just played a practice round with Michelle Wie, also picked up yesterday on the number of captain's choices. Garcia said: "Thomas wears his heart on his sleeve and his comments were understandable. But Ian can only pick two ­ and they are two great picks. He chose what he felt was best for the team and, although Thomas and Johan Edfors got close, you just can't pick them all.

"I think Ian will be a great captain. We've been talking for a couple of weeks and he'll do a great job. Once Darren gets into the team atmosphere and we're all together he will be ready to go and he and Lee will be wonderful team-mates. They can both play with anybody."

By the time the Ryder Cup gets to Scotland in 2014, Garcia could find himself faced with Wie as an opponent. Asked if she could see herself in the United States team in the future, she replied: "Anything is possible. We women are getting stronger, we're getting mentally tough ­ we can do it." Or was that "Wie can do it"?

Comments