Sep
29
2015
Tom Watson turns down PGA of America HOF invite over Bishop ousting
By Stephanie Wei under PGA of America

Well, we’ve always known Tom Watson was a man with strong principles (not to mention stubborn) — he sticks to his guns and he’s unwavering in his convictions. He’s also apparently very loyal.

Watson declined an offer to join the PGA of America’s Hall of Fame, according to a Golf World report.

Watson, who was handpicked to be the 2014 Ryder Cup captain by former PGA president Ted Bishop, texted the following statement:

“While I was very flattered by PGA President (Derek) Sprague’s honoring me to be inducted into PGA Hall of Fame, I couldn’t accept in good conscience because of how the PGA mishandled the firing of my friend and immediate past president of the PGA, Ted Bishop.”

When Bishop was contacted by Golf.com on the issue, he responded with the following comments:

“I didn’t know anything about it myself until 7:30 a.m. this morning. It wasn’t anything that Tom discussed with me. I probably was as surprised as a lot of other people were.

“[Watson] had my total support as the Ryder Cup captain, and in turn I think I had his total spport as president of the PGA of America. There was a lot of mutual respect for what the other guy did. We’ve had a great relationship and I’ve enjoyed it both leading up to and after the Ryder Cup.

“In my time as president of the PGA of America one of the things I feel really proud of is the relationship I have with Tom Watson. He stands for all the things that are great about this game.”

In the weeks following the U.S. team’s third straight loss to the Europeans in the biennial matches, Bishop was removed from office by the PGA Board of Directors when he responded to a tweet from Ian Poulter that criticized former European Ryder Cup captain Nick Faldo, with Bishop attempting to insult Poulter by calling him a “lil girl.” Upon Bishop’s ousting, the PGA said, “the board deemed the remarks to be inconsistent with the policies of the PGA.”

Bishop was thought to still be reeling from the sharp criticisms of Watson’s captaincy in the American loss at Gleneagles since it was his idea to bring back the ’93 leader of the victorious U.S. team to lead the Americans in 2014. As you may recall, things didn’t go so smoothly. In fact, Watson’s captaincy was generally viewed as an utter disaster, which was capped by a semi-mutiny led by Phil Mickelson in the post-loss press conference. Ultimately, these events led to the formation of the U.S. Ryder Cup Task Force

In response to Watson’s snub, a PGA of America spokesperson said: “We have a great deal of respect for Tom Watson. He is a worthy and deserving Hall of Famer, and the door will always be open for him.”