Eldest captain Tom Watson seeks Ryder Cup redemption

Tom Watson, the oldest captain in Ryder Cup history at age 65, will serve as an inspirational leader for a United States golf team seeking redemption at this year`s Ryder Cup.

AFP| Updated: Sep 20, 2014, 12:05 PM IST
Eldest captain Tom Watson seeks Ryder Cup redemption

Edinburgh: Tom Watson, the oldest captain in Ryder Cup history at age 65, will serve as an inspirational leader for a United States golf team seeking redemption at this year`s Ryder Cup.

Watson, who came within a shot of a stunning triumph at age 59 in the 2009 British Open at Turnberry, captained the most recent US Ryder Cup victory on European soil in 1993.

US player Jordan Spieth was two months old when Watson guided the Americans to that victory at the Belfry in England.

But the Americans have lost seven of the nine trophy matchups with Europe since then, including a 14 1/2-13 1/2 heartbreaker at Medinah in 2012 thanks to a last-day singles rally by the visitors.

Watson will try to fan the flames of that frustration into motivation when the US team, including seven members of the 2012 lineup, tries to reclaim the Cup next week at Gleneagles, Scotland.

"My job as a captain is to inspire them if I can and the motivation is there, I can tell you without hesitation," Watson said.

"That was a hard loss for the American players and it still sticks with a lot of them. They want to make amends for what happened at Medinah two years ago.

"It left a pit in my stomach, just a hole in my stomach, after our defeat at Medinah," Watson said. "I don`t think there`s going to be much motivation necessary, maybe just a word or two about we don`t want this to happen again will maybe carry them over the hump and they may make a few more putts when they need to."

Watson, an eight-time major champion and five-time British Open winner, will surpass the Ryder Cup captaincy age mark of John Henry Taylor, who led the British side to victory in 1933 at age 62.

And Watson confronts the age question by citing the experience he has with winning in Europe.

"To have that respect and the trust from the players that we know what`s going on, can help them, the age difference actually it`s kind of like a professor," Watson said. "You go to learn from a professor. He`s been there. He knows. He has the experience. He has the knowledge."

One thing Watson knows is Scotland, a land he loves and whose fans love him. Expect Watson to receive cheers even as the American team will face spectators who are clearly against them.

"I love it there. I love the way they love the game," Watson says of Scotland. "The Scottish people, they are knowledgeable. They understand the game and of course they are going to be very partisan. We know that."

PGA of America president Ted Bishop says Watson has made an impression upon his players in the past year.

"What has impressed me more than anything has been the effort that Tom has made to get to know the players, play with the players," Bishop said.

"At times he`s beaten some of our players at these events. But I think that gives him a great amount of credibility with the players and we are certainly very confident of his ability to lead our team."

Watson was on a hunting trip when Bishop called and had him call back later that same day.

"I was waiting for about 20 years to get the call," Watson said.

Watson, who ranks sixth on the all-time major win list, won the 1977 and 1981 Masters, the 1982 US Open and the British Open in 1975, 1977, 1980, 1982 and 1983. He was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1988.