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Westwood says he did not mean to sound like bad loser

CROWLAND (Reuters) - Lee Westwood said on Tuesday his criticism of unruly U.S. fans during last week’s Ryder Cup had not meant to sound like an excuse for Europe’s defeat.

European Ryder Cup team captain Nick Faldo (R) of Britain and Lee Westwood of Britain watch play on the 8th hole during four-ball play in 37th Ryder Cup Championship at the Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, September 20, 2008. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

After the United States’ 16 1/2 to 11 1/2 victory in Kentucky, Westwood said some spectators had dealt out “fairly nasty” and “pretty shameful” abuse.

The Briton had blamed U.S. captain Paul Azinger for inciting the crowd but in a statement released on Tuesday he praised the American’s captaincy.

“A lot of what I said in Valhalla during and after the Ryder Cup didn’t come out quite as I intended and finished up sounding like sour grapes,” Westwood said in the statement released by his management company.

“So let me say right now that I applaud America’s victory, Paul Azinger’s captaincy in general and the vast majority of the watching public who witnessed a titanic struggle between two very good sides.

“I regret that I singled out a small minority of the crowd who had a go at me and my family during competition days because far and away the greater majority were impeccably behaved and got right behind their team as did the excellent European supporters.”

He added that he had not wanted to sound like a bad loser.

“My comments about the hecklers and Paul’s geeing up the crowd before the event were in no way intended to be an excuse or the words of an ungracious loser because the American team performed brilliantly and fully deserved to win,” he said.

“I may not have been too thrilled with one or two things that happened in Valhalla, but I am taking absolutely nothing away from America’s win. When you’re beaten by a better side, you just have to admit it.

“Well done USA. See you in Celtic Manor (for the next Ryder Cup in 2010).”

Editing by Sonia Oxley