Captain's Blog: Ryder Cup preparations already under way
Leading up to the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in Perthshire, Scotland, U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson will periodically check in with PGA.com to talk about the various things going on in his life on the course, off the course and in his Ryder Cup preparations. This is the first installment of Watson's, 'Captain's Blog,' as told to PGA.com's T.J. Auclair.
By Tom Watson
2014 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain
As seems to always be the case, it was a very exciting end to the Masters. I have to say, I’m so pleased for Adam Scott.
There have been many players before Adam who have lost the big one and then never shown up again. Adam had two directions to go after last summer’s British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes – never show up again, or fight back and show the world what you’re made of.
Clearly, Adam showed what he’s made of with that fantastic birdie on the last hole, which he eventually needed to get in a playoff, and then his performance in the playoff. Following last year’s British Open, I had an empty stomach for 2-3 days for Adam after he made four straight bogeys to end it. Something like that hollows you out. It hollowed me out in 2009 when I couldn’t get the ball to stop on No. 18 at Turnberry. But, you bounce back. Your feelings after a tough defeat are eventually tempered by the victories you’ve had over the years.
I was really, truly happy for Adam that he was able to come back so quickly.
It was also nice to see Fred Couples and Bernhard Langer – both past Masters champions – make yet another run. Could someone over the age of 50 eventually win a major on the regular tour? If the race is short enough, then yes. I equate the way we are on the Champions Tour to quarter horses. We can go fast for a short distance. The guys on the regular tour are thoroughbreds. You can just see it. Jack Nicklaus, in fact, didn’t think he could win the Masters at age 46. He said it takes a young person’s nerves.
One of the things I enjoyed during the Masters, which was new to me, was taking to Twitter. I joined the social media world not long ago and I think it’s interesting. (You can follow me at TomWatsonPGA.) It has many pluses in that you can get instant information out there and make a point that people will might want to hear. During the Masters I was able to tweet my thoughts about what was going on, give some tips and then answer questions from followers that weren’t even related to the Masters like, “what’s your favorite course?”
With the 2013 Masters behind us, we now have some actual points for U.S. players hoping to make the team for 2014, but to be honest, it’s entirely too early to even look at the points list. I really enjoy baseball and that would be like looking at a ball player’s batting average after three games. Is that indicative of how his entire season will play out? No way.
There is a lot that’s gone on behind the scenes with Ryder Cup planning in the last few months though.
Several processes have been put in place. While I haven’t made any final decisions, I’ve given a lot of thought to the people I’ll use as assistant captains, caddie liaisons and other people I’ll entrust with the workings of the Ryder Cup. The process is ongoing.
I’m formulating a list of names and asking questions about certain people privately. That goes part and parcel with getting to know the players and their abilities better. It’s an observational process that I’ll be going through with help from others. I’ll be asking anyone with inside information to give it to me. That’s the process. That’s what I’m going through.
This is a different way of being involved with golf than what I’ve been used to for many years. Now, I’m actively involved in paying attention to the outcome at tournaments for players other than myself.
Basically, it comes down to three things and these three things should come as no surprise. I’m sure Paul McGinley is looking at the same three things too:
1. I’m looking at players who have a lot of heart.
2. I’m looking at a player who can hold or even increase his lead under pressure.
3. I’m looking for a player who can play well in bad conditions.
That last one should be obvious, because those are likely to be the type of conditions we’ll face in Scotland.
Finally, regarding my own game, I’m looking forward to the Senior PGA Championship at Bellerive at the end of May. It’s being played in my home state – right across the state from me. It’s a very enjoyable course. To play well there, you need to be driving the ball well to take the risks out of play.