The 64-year-old United States Ryder Cup captain has more than
half an eye on the match against holders Europe in Scotland in
September and he made two verbal declarations at Hoylake that left
no doubt as to how seriously he is taking the biennial team event.
Watson left open the possibility that some of his 12 players may not
be called upon until the last-day singles and he rejected the notion
that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are guaranteed places in his
Asked by Reuters in an interview if he planned to rotate his team on
the opening two days in order to make sure everyone gets a taste of
the action ahead of the singles, he shrugged his shoulders.
"Who knows?," he said. "I told my players when I was captain for the
first time in 1993 and I'll them the same now, I'll do whatever I
can to win this thing."
Five-times Open champion Watson ended his Hoylake campaign in
rousing fashion on Sunday when a four-under 68 gave him a tie for
Among the players lower than the veteran American on the final
leaderboard were former world number ones Woods and Luke Donald,
seventh-ranked Matt Kuchar, number eight Jason Day and last month's
U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer.
Watson will continue to compete at this week's Senior British Open
at Royal Porthcawl in Wales before beginning the countdown to the
The American, who led his team to victory over Bernard Gallacher's
Europeans in his previous match in charge at The Belfry 21 years
ago, does not want to over-complicate matters for his team when they
get to Gleneagles.
"I will only do two things, as I see it," said Watson who surprised
MasterCard cardholders at nearby Caldy Golf Club last week and
delivered a golf lesson as part of the #PricelessSurprises program.
"How do I assess their play and how do I think the players can
affect our team out on the course?
SET THE STAGE
"I'll set the stage, arrange all the practice sessions, help them to
learn their lines, but when they go out it's down to them to
Watson's vice-captain Andy North told Reuters this month that the
American skipper's popularity in Scotland, scene of four of his five
Open triumphs, would be an advantage.
"I don't buy that, I don't buy that at all," scoffed Watson.
[to top of second column]
"I may be popular from a personal point of view but make no mistake
the Scottish fans will want me to fail in the Ryder Cup and that's
the way it should be.
"The Ryder Cup is partisan, you want your team to win. It's us
against them and I got that lesson early in my career."
Watson went on to describe an incident he was involved in during the
1977 Ryder Cup at Royal Lytham, his debut in the biennial team
"Hubert Green and I were six up against Tommy Horton and Brian
Barnes and looked as if we were about to go seven up with seven
holes to play," he added.
"We were on the green, Tommy made his putt and I missed and the
crowd cheered. That was the moment I got it, right there and then.
"You don't want hecklers out there or anything like that but that's
what the Ryder Cup is all about, cheering your own team on."
Woods and Mickelson, who have 19 major victories between them, are
way down the Ryder Cup points list and look like they may need one
of the captain's three wildcard selections for Gleneagles.
A U.S. team without either of them seems highly improbable but
Watson sees things differently.
"Everybody is thinking that I'm going to pick them automatically, I
can assure you that I'm not going to pick them automatically," the
skipper told reporters.
"I said about Tiger that I'll pick him if he's playing well and he's
in good health. And Phil is the same way."
(Editing by Ed Osmond)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.