Excitement in the air with 40th Ryder Cup just one year away
PERTHSHIRE, Scotland -- With one year to go before the next Ryder Cup, Gleneagles -- and all of the UK -- set out the welcome mat for captains Tom Watson and Paul McGinley in impressive and elegant fashion.
The captains have been on a virtual non-stop promotional tour in a community that is already teeming with excitement and anticipation for the iconic event.
The tour has included dinner in historic Edinburgh Castle with the First Minister, a steam train ride that Watson particularly enjoyed because of a childhood affinity for toy trains and golf with 16 juniors in the Club Golf of Scotland program.
There was also an intimate fireside chat between the captains in front of a sold-out Perth Concert Hall and a Tuesday morning visit to The Community School of Auchterarder where the curriculum is designed around a Ryder Cup theme.
The tour concluded with a press conference from the Gleneagles Hotel, site of the 40th Ryder Cup, where both stressed the importance of sportsmanship and respect while eagerly anticipating a fierce and competitive battle.
Watson and McGinley opened the press conference with great praise for the venue and the Gleneagles community. Watson made particular note of how much he enjoyed being around the juniors -- both on the course Monday and in the classroom Tuesday.
"It was a wonderful experience to be part of the junior golf program that has been instituted here in Scotland for all 9-year-old kids to pick up a golf club and try the game,” Watson said. “That was a wonderful experience. I was very, very impressed by what I saw over there with the young people and the people who are teaching them.”
Watson also addressed questions about his age (not a problem), his affinity for Scotland (loves Scotland, but expects them to cheer for Europe), the golf course (many birdies in calm conditions), whether U.S. should be favorite or underdogs (underdogs -- mainly due to being away team), the play of young sensation Jordan Spieth (hope he can keep it up, even when tough times come), who on team could serve as a team leader (Jason Dufner can be fun, Tiger Woods by his presence), his main role as captain (help relieve some of the pressure the players feel), and the loss in 2012 at Medinah (will use as motivation).
Watson even suggested the purest way to pick the teams would be to do away with the captain's picks and only allow qualifying via points. McGinley, obviously taken aback by the thought, cited the many Europeans who spent much of their time playing on the PGA Tour and said he'd defer the question -- bringing laughter from the room.
In the end, both captains agreed that setting was ideal, the competition would be fierce and the anticipation was high.
One year until the next Ryder Cup seems ever so much closer now.