Tom Watson’s amazing return as American Ryder Cup captain – he will be 65 at Gleneagles in 2014 and the oldest skipper in history – was not a knee-jerk reaction to their latest defeat.
Watson was contacted more than a year ago and asked if he was interested in trying to repeat his 1993 victory at The Belfry – the last time Europe lost on home soil.
“Boy, I’ve been waiting for this call for a long time,” came the reply from the five-time Open champion to PGA of America president Ted Bishop.
During a press conference at the Empire State Building in New York yesterday, Watson instantly made it clear he wants Tiger Woods on his side, even though he had harsh words to say in the wake of Woods’s sex scandal in 2009 and the fact that since 1999, the only time the United States have triumphed was the one time Woods was not playing.
Watson has not decided yet how many wild cards he wants, but if Woods fails to qualify he can expect to be No 1 choice for a pick.
“He’s the best player maybe in history,” added Watson. “Our relationship’s fine and I want him on my team.”
Woods has already said he hopes to win an eighth cap under the man who deplored his club-throwing and swearing and commented: “I feel that he has not carried the same stature as the other great players that have come along like Jack (Nicklaus), Byron Nelson, (Ben) Hogan.
“You can grant that to somebody, a young person, that has not been out there for a while, but I think he needs to clean up his act and show the respect for the game that the people before him have shown.”
Woods, who did not win a game at Medinah as America suffered their seventh loss in nine matches, said in a statement: “I’d like to congratulate Tom Watson on his selection as Ryder Cup captain.
“I think he’s a really good choice. Tom knows what it takes to win and that’s our ultimate goal.
“I hope I have the privilege of joining him on the 2014 United States team.”
Colin Montgomerie, in charge of Europe when they won the last home match at Celtic Manor two years ago and a member of Bernard Gallacher’s side that faced Watson in 1993, called Watson’s appointment “very wise”, but believes the pressure is on him.
“What happens if he fails?” he said. “He has to win now. If he doesn’t succeed at Gleneagles what’s going to happen in 2016?
“There is a lot of pressure on Tom Watson, but he can handle that – I’m sure he can. It will be a task for anybody to take on Tom because he is very well respected, very well liked and loved here in Scotland.”
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