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Tiger Woods has brushed off suggestions that the USA Ryder Cup team was fractured by Patrick Cantlay in Rome after reports circulated suggesting that the American star was unhappy at not being paid to take part.
Zach Johnson’s team had arrived at the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club as favourites to retain the trophy after they trounced the Europeans at Whistling Straits in 2021, but Luke Donald’s side had other ideas, producing a phenomenal exhibition of team spirit and brilliant golf to regain the silverware with a stunning 16.5-11.5 victory.
Rumours about problems in the US camp started to surface after the first days’ play with the visitors trailing 1.5-6.5. World No. 5 Cantlay had been the only player to compete without wearing a team cap and reports surfaced suggesting that he was refusing to do so in protest at the fact that the PGA of America was not paying the players to represent America in the event.
This was denied by Cantlay, who said the real reason was simply because the team cap did not fit his head.
However, the report was seized upon by European fans on the second day, who goaded Cantlay by waving their caps at him as he walked up the fairways and sang songs about his bank balance.
Woods, who returns to action at the Hero World Challenge today for the first time in seven months, did not take part in this year’s Ryder Cup in any capacity, but when asked by reporters about this perceived unrest in the US camp in Rome, he was quick to play it down.
Woods said: “Well, what transpired there, it was media, it was just noise. Obviously the fact that everyone now carries a mobile device and that was able to spread. You’re not on home soil, so any time someone — they’re going to try to get in your head and that’s what they tried to do.
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“I totally get it. Emotions. We all want to win. You have a home side and an opposing side, you’re going to get heat and that’s what happened.”
As is tradition in the competition, players from the United States are not paid for taking part in the Ryder Cup but are instead rewarded with the honour of representing their country. The same rule also applies to the Europeans.
Woods was part of a group of players at the 1999 event in Brookline that complained about not being paid, but when reporters asked him on Wednesday whether players should paid be to participate in the Ryder Cup, he said: “That wasn’t an issue.”
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