Captain's Blog: Ryder Cup year is upon us
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 sixth 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
The New Year means the Ryder Cup is starting to get close.
It seems it was just a few months ago that the last Ryder Cup ended. Everything has gone by fast and a lot of things have passed under the bridge since 2012. We're very close now. The loss in 2012 at Medinah is still on everybody's mind. This will be a great impetus for our team to win the Cup back this coming September.
The players are playing tournaments and getting Ryder Cup points outside of the majors now. Of course, that started in the fall with the new wraparound schedule, so we've already got eight point-getting opportunities -- 12 counting the 2013 majors -- in the books.
I've been actively watching the players and how they're playing. I've been impressed by a number of the players, especially Zach Johnson.
Zach's the kind of player who has a big heart. You can't underestimate the value of a big heart from a standpoint of winning and how that plays in a Ryder Cup. I've said it many times -- heart is the No. 1 quality I'm looking for in these players.
It’s too early to look at the standings and think, "this is the team that will be at Gleneagles," but there certainly are trends. And right now, the team is really shaping up similar to the one we had in 2012. Guys from that 2012 U.S. team are playing well and getting significant points.
Now that we're officially in the Ryder Cup year, the media will start talking a lot about it. I'll be out at the L.A. Open on February 11 to make an announcement of importance, so people can be on the lookout for that. While I’m out there, I’m going to make it a point to talk and watch the players, as I want to get to know them better. I’m going to do this consistently throughout the year before the Ryder Cup.
Regarding my own playing schedule, I'm going to play in four events on the PGA Tour for certain in 2014. They are the Masters, the Greenbrier Classic, the British Open and the PGA Championship. I'll also play my normal schedule on the Champions Tour, which, for me, is right around eight events.
Behind the scenes, things have been active planning-wise. We're nearly finished in our selections of the men’s and women’s clothing. We’re using Ralph Lauren Polo, who I've had a tie-in with for many years. This is one big item to check off our list.
We're working hard to ensure that everybody has the right clothes for the climate we're going to be in. The clothes will be both comfortable and fashionable.
The process now is to fit the players. We'll have a number of potential players and caddies get measured during the week of the Memorial Tournament. The clothing will be made well in advance. We'll have them try on the clothes, see what they like and see what they don't like. It's not a headache, but it's one issue you want to make sure you get right. They need to be comfortable in different weather.
As far as other things involving planning, we've had discussions on the hotel and the rooms the players will live in; the meeting rooms that will be used -- what we'll have in there in terms of comfort levels and entertainment.
We've also spent a lot of time going over the logistics of the site itself, how the players will be transported in the easiest possible way; food issues -- we'll learn about that as we get closer to filling out the team and we'll make sure everyone will be fed properly. That's what you do behind the scenes.
I need to give credit to Susan Martin, Kerry Haigh and the rest of the PGA’s team. They know what works. They've done this many times before. They have a great template. We've made minor adjustments, but everyone is on the same page as far as all the logistics are concerned.
My two most important jobs are these: 1. To make my three Captain’s Picks; 2. Put together the strongest pairings as possible.
To inspire is part of my job too, but I don't think they have to be inspired too much. I know they'll be motivated without a question from our last Ryder Cup experience.
Follow 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson on Twitter, @TomWatsonPGA.