Analysis: Watson should captain U.S. Ryder team
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Remember this before saluting PGA of America officials for going “outside the box” when they selected Tom Watson as the next Ryder Cup captain: They're the ones who built the box in the first place.
With due respect to Larry Nelson, who has more reason than ever to believe he will never be a captain, and David Toms, who looked to be the best option inside the box, it's tough to argue against Watson as the perfect pick for the 2014 Ryder Cup in Scotland.
If there's a complaint, it might that it took the PGA of America so long.
For too many years, there was a feeling that a Ryder Cup captain had to be a major champion in his late 40s — old enough that he probably wouldn't qualify for the team, young enough to still be playing on the PGA Tour so that he would have a pulse on the players, their skills and their personalities.
Watson will be 65 when the 2014 matches are played in Scotland, making him the oldest captain in Ryder Cup history. Is he still in touch with today's game?
One answer came Sunday in Sydney when Watson had the lowest score of the final round (69) in the Australian Open. He offered an even stronger answer Thursday without even being asked.
“The idea of being captain for a team of youngsters will be questioned,” Watson said. “I deflect that very simply by saying we play the same game. I play against these kids at the Masters. I play against them at the British Open, the Greenbrier Classic. We play the same game, and they understand that. I understand that.”
The other question about the selection was his relationship with Tiger Woods, which shouldn't be a factor and won't be.
In the months after Woods was caught having extramarital affairs, Watson didn't mince words when he said it was time for Woods to show a little more humility and “clean up his act.” Privately, Watson had been on Woods for his language on the golf course, even before Woods' personal life came undone.
Woods might hold grudges over little things, but he tends to take the high road on weightier matters. It was not surprising to see him issue a statement, just minutes after Watson was introduced on the “Today” show, to congratulate Watson and say that “I think he's a really good choice.”
“Tom knows what it takes to win, and that's our ultimate goal,” Woods said, adding that he hoped to have the “privilege” of playing for him.
Watson returned praise to Woods that was even more effusive.
“He's the best player maybe in the history of the game,” Watson said. “And if he's not on the team for any unforeseen reason ... you can bet that he's going to be No. 1 on my pick list.”
One overrated aspect of having Watson as captain is that he is far enough removed from these players that he won't coddle them, allowing them to dictate who they want as partners and when they want to play. That's easy to identify as a problem in defeat. It worked just fine for Davis Love III when the Americans had a 10-6 lead going into the last day at Medinah. If not for Ian Poulter's five straight birdies or Justin Rose making a 35-foot putt, that's not even an issue.
You want a captain who calls all the shots? That didn't work out very well for Hal Sutton, who was saddled with a team in poor form.
No matter who is captain, the players still decide who gets the gold trophy.
“The most important thing is for me as a captain is to get lucky,” Watson said. “I just hope I get lucky and that happens, that the players that are coming there are all playing well, and that we're playing as a team, it will put us in a good chance of winning the tournament.”
The PGA of America was looking for the right man for the right time. And once it stepped outside its box, the choice was obvious.
Doug Ferguson is the national golf writer for The Associated Press.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Hockey hypocrites, unite
- Prime time not kind to Heinz Field
- State police trooper seriously hurt when hit by vehicle in East Huntingdon
- Steelers offense puts up gaudy numbers in season’s 1st half
- Penguins veteran defenseman Scuderi’s game looking up
- Steelers notebook: Roethlisberger, offense must adjust with CB Smith out
- Clairton police rounding up street-level drug dealers
- Woman’s body found in Mars home
- Apple CEO Tim Cook: ‘I’m proud to be gay’
- Kiski Valley-based ring charged with hundreds of thefts over 10 communities
- Lifesharing allows families to open homes, hearts to disabled