For many avid American golf fans, the sting of the 2012 Ryder Cup hasn’t worn off, and probably won’t until 2014. It sounds like the same can be said for the American players, who have now lost seven of the last nine competitions to the Europeans. The U.S. has chosen Tom Watson, who guided the 1993 team to victory, to again captain the team, and he feels the teams’ attitude of being sick of losing could help the U.S. turn the corner.
Tom Watson joined WHB in Kansas City with Between the Lines to discuss getting the call to be captain again, what the job will entail, how he’ll approach the job compared to recent American captains, the system that determines how players make the team, on American golf fans caring more about the competition due to the recent lack of success and the players being sick of losing as well.
Did you ever think you were going to get the call to be Ryder Cup captain again?:
“Frankly, I was waiting for the call, but I really didn’t think I was going to get it after all these years. After winning in 1993 as a captain and watching those players celebrate, it was such a joyous occasion. … It just never left me. I said, ‘Gosh, I’d love to be a part of this again.'”
On the job as captain:
“The captain really has little influence on how the players are playing. The players, themselves, they’re the actors on the stage, they go out and they perform. All I am is the stage manager. I can inspire … relieve them, somewhat of the pressure. … But ultimately it’s the players that have to go out there and perform. When asked about losing seven out of the last nine Ryder Cups … it’s a simple answer. We haven’t played well.”
Will you approach things differently that captains have in the recent past?:
“You go with the best information available at the time you’re making the decision. You use all the information that comes from your gut. That’s part of being the captain. … But you also use the outside information. What kind of weather conditions are there? What kind of position do I put these players in? Does it matter? Sometimes it doesn’t even matter. … What do I do about the players who are not playing up to their best? … I want them to play, but I’m not going to play them a lot. … What you really hope happens is that all 12 players are playing their best.”
Do we have the proper system in place regarding how the team is selected?:
“Right now, what happened the last couple years, is we’ve had four captain’s choices. I was asked the question up in New York, ‘Are you thinking about changing that?’ I said I’d leave open the options. Hunter Mahan this last year, he was ninth on the list and didn’t get a chance to play. … There are options for me that I’m glad the PGA let’s me have, but I’m not going to figure that out until later on.”
What about the fact that much of what factors in for the automatic decisions will go down in 2013 when the competition isn’t until 2014?:
“Right now it’s very heavily weighted to 2014. This is the way the points are accumulated … 2013, next year, only the four major championships will accrue points for the Ryder Cup team in 2014. The last six events in 2013, which officially start the 2014 season … that starts the Ryder Cup process. How you play in those tournaments, you will accrue points. … Then, in 2014, you will accrue points at all the tournaments; the four major championships will be double points. … I think it’s a good system. I don’t think it needs much tweaking, if any.”
On Americans caring about the Ryder Cup more now, particularly because we haven’t been successful:
“You’re darn right they do. The question isn’t whether we have an equal chance to win the Ryder Cup, the question is we have to play awfully well to win. … It’s taken us a while to get over the attitude that this is an American-dominated event, but it’s definitely there now.”
Do you think the players, at this point, want to win for their country, or more just because they’re embarrassed by the recent record?:
“I think it’s the latter. I think you’re getting close to the attitude that these players are going to have. They’re tired of getting their butts beat. … That’s the attitude that they’ll have and that’s the attitude that I have. We’re tired of getting beat and we have to do everything we can to win this thing. When I first played on the Ryder Cup team, we were expected to win. When they changed the Ryder Cup format for the British team to include European players … then they got competitive, and then they started beating the crud out of us. And that’s exactly where the Ryder Cup is right now.”