Transcript of Watson's discussion on his picks
Here is the transcript from Tom Watson's conversation with Brian Katrek about his captain's picks and more from March 20, 2014
Q. (BY BRIAN KATREK) Thank you for joining us here on Ryder Cup.com, I'm Brian Katrek and it gives me great pleasure to welcome the 2014 captain of the American Ryder Cup Team, Tom Watson. Tom, thank you for your time.
CAPTAIN TOM WATSON: Well good morning.
Q. Good morning, too. It's great, we are here in your hometown of Kansas City. You are back home after a great week on the Champions Tour, you had a great weekend.
CAPTAIN TOM WATSON: I had a great week. David Frost ran away with it. I played pretty well and getting ready for the Masters coming up in a few weeks.
Q. Lots of big things. Today of course a big announcement with regards to The Ryder Cup selection process. Tell us what it is. We all want to hear it.
CAPTAIN TOM WATSON: Well, the announcement, very simply is that I'm going to reduce the number of captain's picks from four to three.
There's not a lot of method to my madness, if you will, but I just truly think that the players themselves ought to have another shot at getting on the team because of their merit, because of their play, actually starting at the Masters this year is where the first points will be awarded, the first Ryder Cup points will be awarded at players.
Q. You hinted at this last week that you wanted to reward the players and the guys that are playing hot at the time, so an interesting adjustment to the captain's picks process. Did you speak to other captains about there?
CAPTAIN TOM WATSON: I certainly did. I ran it by I think three or four recent Ryder Cup Captains. We had long conversations about it, and I just said, what do you think, and all of them said, that's a good decision, Tom.
Q. Curious to hear the thoughts of Paul Azinger who is the captain that took it from two picks to four to begin with a few years ago.
CAPTAIN TOM WATSON: I did talk with Paul and he was behind it 100 percent. He had some real good thoughts about how he could comprise a team and what he did with the team to get them some ownership in the process.
Q. So a grand total of three captain's picks, nine players will make the team automatically on points?
CAPTAIN TOM WATSON: Correct.
Q. No adjustment to the points system going forward from the past?
CAPTAIN TOM WATSON: No, point system starts at the Fry's.com, the main points system the Fry's.com. This year all four major championships will be awarded single points, and the Fry's.com at the year will start the process of single points for all those tournaments with the exception of the majors next year, which will be awarded double points. And the tournaments opposite the majors and also the World Golf Championships, they will be awarded half points.
Q. So you will get some points no matter where it is you're playing.
CAPTAIN TOM WATSON: That's right, exactly.
Q. Excellent. How do you address a possible lack of familiarity with today's players? You're not playing on the PGA TOUR full time.
CAPTAIN TOM WATSON: I've already addressed that. Ian Poulter said I might not have a good understanding of the players on the team.
But the way I answer that is that the players on the team will know that I've been there before. I've been captain, I've been player, I know what they are going through and they know that I know what they are going through. There's different pressure in The Ryder Cup, as all the players understand who have played in it.
And that pressure, it's something that I've always said as captain when I was 1993 captain, my main purpose there, besides organizing who is going to play with whom, was to try to defray, if you will, the pressure from the players, and it was the players themselves can do that as a group.
And that's one of the things that discussing the previous teams with the previous captains, it was very apparent that the group itself had to take good ownership of the whole process. It's pretty easy. I remember playing on The Ryder Cup teams, we are all in. Everybody who are playing, we were all in for the competition, for winning the Cup, and that was our purpose for being there. It was great being a part of that process.
Q. That's one of your purposes for being here is to steer the team in that direction again. Let's talk about potential assistants. If that's something you want to address, the idea that maybe you want some contemporaries, contemporaries have been the captains of recent years, do you expect to possibly go that direction with your assistants and when do we expect to see some movement on your assistant captains?
CAPTAIN TOM WATSON: Well, I've been mulling over possible assistants, there are probably about ten players that I've thought about and I really haven't come down to a conclusion yet about who is going to be my assistant.
I think they certainly play an integral part in the process of helping the team do what it needs to do to win. The bottom line is that the players themselves are the catalyst. They have to be their own catalyst, and the assistants are going to be there to kind of help them out, kind of defray some of the things go on, that kind of get in the way of the process.
Q. (PGA of America President) Ted Bishop referred to you as an information hound. Tell me about what it is you've gleaned through the information you've asked for that led you to go with three captain's picks instead of two, and what have you learned about the lack of success in the last few Ryder Cups for the American side?
CAPTAIN TOM WATSON: Well, I think the things that you need to know, you need to know about the weather.
The first thing I did when I knew I was going to be captain, I went to weather.com. I looked for the weather at Gleneagles. I Googled, in September, late September weather, and found the temperature is going to be high, average of 56, low of 48. Players will have to address their clothing, make sure that they have the proper clothing for playing in cold weather. Could be windy. You never know about the rain.
But it could be windy and cold, and coming off the regular tour at that time of year when they play the FedExCup, they play warm weather, warm weather, warm weather and now all of a sudden they hit cold weather. There's a little bit of shock to the system. Besides the shock to the system going over there with the time change.
There are a lot of things that I've experienced over my career, that playing overseas, some of the physical things that I will advise my players onto hope them be ready to play.
Q. Interesting. Three captain's picks instead of two, incase you missed it, and instead of four for Tom Watson, the big announcement this morning, we certainly appreciate you making that announcement here an Ryder Cup.com. Talk about a possible trip to Gleneagles with the team. It's tough to get the American side all unified. It's tough to pick a week where you can do that, but is that something you guys have talked about?
CAPTAIN TOM WATSON: Well, the biggest advantage that the Europeans have, in previous Ryder Cups, and it addresses I'll answer the last half of your question. Why have we not been successful?
Well, one of the things that the Europeans have done, I would do it, too, if I had the chance. They play their Ryder Cup Matches on courses where they play the European tournaments. And the more familiar one is with the golf course, the better they are going to play, and it gives you a comfort level.
Again, Gleneagles. The Centenary Course, the players have played the Johnnie Walker Classic (Championship) there for several years, I think four or five years now, and I know a bunch of them have played there that will be on the team. That's an advantage. That's a clear advantage to have the knowledge of the golf course under all conditions.
One of the things that happened in 2009 when we played Turnberry and I played well, I had an advantage because most of the players hadn't played that course and I knew the winds were going to change from the practice round winds from the south to the northwest.
Now I played that course with the northwest wind several times and that give me an advantage because I had played that course with those winds. I knew the type of shots I had to play and how to go into the greens. The other players, most of the players didn't. And the same thing with playing The Ryder Cup.
We play on courses where the Europeans have played a number of times, they know the golf courses a lot better than we do. We are just going to have to ramp up our preparation for playing there and if the players choose to go over there I'm not going to go over there and say, play the course once. The bottom line is to get your body on the right time zone as quickly as possible, and then get to know the golf course. These players do it for a living so I'm not too concerned about them getting to know the golf course, except the fact that they have not played it in all conditions.
Q. In your opinion, what are the differences between captaining an American Ryder Cup Team here in the States and taking a team on the road, so to speak?
CAPTAIN TOM WATSON: Well, it's clearly when you captain the team on the road over there, that Paul McGinley, the European captain, will determine the setup, the green speeds of the golf course, just as Davis Love did at Medinah this past year. That gives you a little bit of an advantage to design or set up the golf course in favor of your team.
Q. Masters week, first week for points, this coming Masters just a few weeks away. You're in the field as a past champion, which is always fun. Are you going to this year's Masters as a player to gather Ryder Cup points, or are you going as a captain or are you just going as Tom Watson?
CAPTAIN TOM WATSON: I'm going there as a player as I always do. I want to compete the best I possibly can. I've struggled with the length of the golf course in the last several years, but I'm going to try it again.
As far as looking at players, I've already started the process of really trying to get to know who is out on the PGA TOUR. I've watched a lot of golf on the Golf Channel and the networks, and I know who Russell Henley is, I know Kevin
CAPTAIN TOM WATSON: Streelman, who just won this last week and other he won just this last week and some of the youngsters that you haven't heard of and of course Tiger and Phil both won already this year. There's always Steve Stricker, the man in semi retirement, second on the points list right now.
I know these players to a certain degree, but I'm going to get much more familiar with them over the next 18 months before The Ryder Cup is played.
Q. I know you've been made well aware of this, but what are your thoughts as the oldest Ryder Cup Captain?
CAPTAIN TOM WATSON: Oh, don't bring that up (laughing).
Q. It's been brought up. You can take that in a number of different ways.
CAPTAIN TOM WATSON: You know, old age and wisdom sometimes helps the process and the one thing that I know is that if the team takes that ownership in this process, and they will do their best, all I want is 100 percent effort. That's what I gave. That's what Ray Floyd or Jack or Arnold always gave, 100 percent effort for this thing.
Sometimes the pressure can be a lot greater and cause a semi meltdown in some of the players, but that's part of the process. These players have played under pressure a lot throughout their career and it's going to be interesting to see how the team is comprised, whether there will be three or four young players who never made the team, we are starting to tee some players really surge right now as young players.
Then you have the old stalwarts like Phil and Tiger who they have got to step up to the plate, as well, and lead that team. That's my job as a captain to try to get the right kind of get the right frame of mind for the team as they approach The Ryder Cup and of course during The Ryder Cup.
Q. Finally you said when you were named Ryder Cup Captain again, that you've been waiting 20 years to get this phone call to captain this team again; what does it mean to you?
CAPTAIN TOM WATSON: Well, I got the phone call from Ted Bishop, the PGA president, their incoming PGA president, before he was actually made president and he called to say that he was considering me along with the future committee to be Ryder Cup Captain.
I said to myself silently, I said, "Yeah, I've been waiting for this call." Ever since I was captain in 1993, I had always hoped that I would have the opportunity again to be the captain of The Ryder Cup Team, and it was a great experience. I watch it I watch it from start to finish every time it's played on TV.
And I still get that feeling in the gut of the nerves that I went through, not only as a captain, but also as a player. It's one of those great pleasures in life to be able to watch a golfing event with that type of feeling inside you. I love it.
Q. Well, we are lucky to have you. Thank you very much for your time.
CAPTAIN TOM WATSON: Thank you.
Q. It's a great, tremendous announcement this morning. Three captain's picks, it's not four anymore, it's not two, it's three nor the American side, so deems the captain Tom Watson. You can follow tomorrow on Twitter @TomWatsonPGA, and for latest in Ryder Cup news, keep it right here on Ryder Cup.com.