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  Sunday, 29 September, 2002, 20:21 GMT 21:21 UK
Strange pays tribute to Torrance
Curtis Strange, the USA's Ryder Cup captain
Strange was gracious in defeat at The Belfry

US captain Curtis Strange defended his strategy after Europe regained the Ryder Cup on a dramatic final day at The Belfry.

Strange sent three of his best players - Davis Love III, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods - out last in the singles matches.

But the gamble backfired as Europe racked up early points to gain the momentum which inspired them to a 15-12 triumph.

Strange denied his decision to "backload" his line-up had handed Europe victory.


The crowd were Europe's 13th man
Curtis Strange

"Obviously, if someone says that, I tend to disagree," he told a media conference after the Ryder Cup's closing ceremony.

"It's also an insult to my players who went out early."

But Strange paid tribute to rival skipper Sam Torrance for outfoxing him by sending out Europe's big guns first.

"Sam did a remarkable job. I think he took a heck of a gamble doing what he did, but it worked and it got the crowd into it."

Strange was full of praise for the massive galleries at The Belfry who cheered the home team to victory.

Tiger Woods was below par at the Ryder Cup
Woods was left frustrated on the closing holes

"They were Europe's 13th man, and they were toughest but fairest 13th man I've ever seen. Congratulations to everyone."

Tiger Woods agreed, saying the matches had been played in a spirit far removed from the ill-feeling which marred Brookline in 1999.

"It was a beautiful week," said the world number one who halved his ultimately meaningless match with Jesper Parnevik.

He admitted it was frustrating to not be able to influence the final outcome.

"I told Jesper I thought it would probably come down to our match, but unfortunately it didn't.

"I realised we weren't going to win after I hit my tee-shot at the 17th and heard all the cheering up ahead."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Final day highlights

USA captain Curtis Strange
"We played well, they played better"
European captain Sam Torrance
"Nothing can compare to this victory"
News, reports and features on golf's big team event

Europe 15-12 USA

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