Last Thursday, Tom Watson was officially introduced as the captain of the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team.
While the rumors in the days preceding the announcement had said that Watson was going to be tapped to captain the team, it still came as at least a little bit of a surprise for me, because I figured it was too good to be true.
The pick of Watson certainly is a diversion from what had been the previous policy of the PGA of America when it came to selecting a Ryder Cup captain: if you were between the ages of 45 and 50, plus had won a major championship, you were definitely in the mix to be picked. This protocol had been followed for decades (including when Watson captained the team for the 1st time in 1993, the last time the U.S. won in Europe).
This originally made it seem like David Toms would be the clear favorite to be picked as the next captain, but it was not to be. Perhaps Bishop and the PGA of America felt they had to shake things up after the U.S. team’s epic collapse at Medinah a couple months ago.
So while Toms may have missed out, the pick of Watson might just be what the Americans need.
Watson, who will be the oldest U.S. Ryder Cup captain of all-time, has all the credentials to be the successor to Davis Love III.
One of the all-time greats of the game, he won 8 majors during his illustrious career, and he had one of golf’s best rivalries with Jack Nicklaus. And while some question whether or not Watson will be able to connect with the younger players, I don’t see it being a problem.
Do recall that this is the same guy that was a putt away from winning the British Open at the age of 59 (I consider his 2nd place finish to be one of the great feats in sports history). I still have a tough time thinking about the 72nd hole of the 2009 British Open. I’ve never rooted for anyone like I did for Watson in that tournament.
But even though he came up short, he still added another chapter to his legendary career, and it is ample proof that he deserves to be selected a 2nd time to captain the U.S. team. Plus, there’s almost nobody that’s as well-respected by players in the game as Tom Watson is.
His relationship with Tiger Woods will be a big story headed into 2014, as Watson was very critical of Woods when his personal life fell apart in 2010. I don’t see that being a problem either, as both men will be sharing a common goal of trying to bring the Cup back to America.
What effect Watson will have on the 2014 Ryder Cup remains to be seen. Even though Europe will host the Ryder Cup, Watson may be the more popular of the 2 captains, as he is beloved in Scotland (where the Cup will take place) thanks to his unprecedented success in British Opens throughout his career.
But when it comes right down to it, a captain can only do so much. The players are the ones who decide who wins the Ryder Cup, and the Americans really need to step up if they want to take it back.
However, maybe Tom Watson is the man who can jump start the U.S. Ryder Cup team, and boy do they need him to just that.