I feel I'm being used as a pawn to help damage Taoiseach, says Walton
RYDER Cup hero Philip Walton last night called for an end to the witch hunt of Taoiseach Brian Cowen over his mimicry of the golfer at a Fianna Fail gathering last week.
Mr Walton said he was bemused by the huge fuss generated by the incident at a Galway hotel and felt he was being used by people with vested interests in damaging Mr Cowen.
The Dubliner stressed that he held no brief for the Taoiseach. Indeed, he said: "He's not doing the best job, and he's letting himself down, but the press should give the man a break. It's over. Let him get on with his life.
"I couldn't believe how this story went around the world.
"After it broke I spoke to only one reporter but there were all kinds of quotes supposedly from me in other newspapers."
He told the Irish Independent: "I feel I'm being used as a pawn to get at the Taoiseach.
"Was I offended? A bit. If I was there at the occasion and he asked me could he do it, I might have said 'go ahead'.
"It seems that other people there that night who know me took offence on my behalf."
The golfer revealed that the situation, which was not of his making, could have resulted in an assault.
He was in Connemara playing a Pro-Am at the weekend and was bumped aggressively by a stranger who muttered something about the golfer damaging the Taoiseach.
"He knocked me in the shoulder. I said 'pardon me, but all that has nothing to do with me' and he took a step back," said Walton.
Friends say anyone who knows Walton appreciates he's a sociable character with a sense of humour.
He said he had not been taking the issue anything like as seriously as some pundits would like to believe, but he did not appreciate being in the middle of this controversy.
"I'm not one to court the limelight. I would not want to get dragged down in this or get involved. It's petty stuff.
"I wrote the Taoiseach a letter, not in a totally light hearted tone, but explaining the situation from my side.
"I got a letter back from his press people today acknowledging receipt of my letter and saying there would be a letter on its way to me.
"As far as I'm concerned, it's done. It's over, and what is to be said between me and the Taoiseach should be a private matter from now on," he added.
The golfer, who clinched the winning point for Europe in the 1995 Ryder Cup at Oak Hill in America, smiled wryly at one text from a friend.
"This guy sent me a text saying 'Walton, the man who brought down the government.'
"It's funny in one way, but I'm not having any of that.
"None of this was any of my making and the way the whole thing blew up was disgusting. It doesn't reflect too well on the people who started it," he said.