AP FILE Photo
This Sept. 26, 1993, photo shows American Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson, center, posing with his winning team after they were presented with the trophy at the Belfry Golf Club in Sutton Coldfield, England. Standing at rear from left are John Cook, Raymond Floyd, Lanny Wadkins, Corey Pavin and Lee Janzen. Kneeling are Tom Kite, foreground, and Chip Beck. Obscured player at top right is unidentified.
The PGA of America on Thursday named Tom Watson the captain of the U.S. Ryder Cup team for the 2014 event at Gleneagles in Scotland.
Watson, 63, was the U.S. captain in 1993, the last time the United States won the Cup on foreign soil. The United States has lost seven of the past nine Ryder Cups, including a devastating loss at Medinah Country Club in Illinois this fall, when the Europeans came back from a 10-6 deficit on the final day to win.
Watson, who will be 65 when the 2014 event is played, would be the oldest Ryder Cup captain since the competition began in 1927. He is also the first repeat captain for the U.S. team since Jack Nicklaus in 1987. (Nicklaus, incidentally, designed the course at Gleneagles that will be used for the 2014 Cup.)
On Tuesday at a media roundtable, Ted Bishop, the PGA president, had hinted that the PGA was going to “doing something a little bit different” with the captaincy because “we’re tired of losing.”
The phrase “tired of losing” was repeated several times during Thursday’s news conference at the Empire State Building.
There is no doubt that Watson was chosen for his expertise in links golf and his success playing in Scotland, which is hosting the Ryder Cup for only the second time. Among his eight major titles, five came at the British Open, and four of those were on courses in Scotland. At the news conference, Bishop noted “how revered this gentleman is in Scotland.”
Bishop said the process of selecting Watson began more than a year ago. The idea came to him after reading Jim Huber’s book “Four Days in July,” which is about Watson’s improbable run at the 2009 British Open at age 59. When Bishop called Watson to gauge his interest, Watson said, “Boy, I’ve been waiting for this call for a long time.”
“I always wanted to be captain again,” Watson said.
In recent years, the PGA had chosen former major winners and Ryder Cup veterans in their mid-40s who were still active on the PGA Tour, including Davis Love III, Corey Pavin and Paul Azinger. Watson currently plays only three events on the regular tour: the Masters, the British Open and the Greenbriar Classic. But he said he would consider adding one or two more PGA tournaments to his playing schedule.
Watson said little in Thursday’s news conference to reveal his philosophy as captain. Noting his proximity to Broadway, he described himself as a stage manager.
“I prepare the stage for the actors,” Watson said.
But he did say he was evaluating the selection criteria and wondered whether four captain’s picks for the U.S. team was too many. Beginning with the 2008 Ryder Cup, the U.S. captain has had four discretionary picks for the 12-man roster, while the European team has two. In the aftermath of the Americans’ loss at Medinah, Love was second-guessed over his captain’s picks.
However many picks he has, Watson said Tiger Woods would be “No. 1 on my pick list” if he did not qualify automatically. Watson has criticized Woods in the past but said that was “water under the bridge.”
For his part, Woods, who will be 38 during the 2014 Ryder Cup, said of Watson in a statement: “I think he’s a really good choice. Tom knows what it takes to win, and that’s our ultimate goal.”MORE IN Sports WireMIAMI — Draft night belonged to Ben Simmons.
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