US Ryder Cup Captain to Be Named Thursday; Ranking the Best Candidates

Ron Juckett@ronjuckettContributor IIIDecember 12, 2012

US Ryder Cup Captain to Be Named Thursday; Ranking the Best Candidates

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    On Thursday, the PGA of America will announce who will be the next Ryder Cup captain.

    That announcement will be made at 8:30 am Eastern on NBC's Today Show (via AP), and it is expected to be Tom Watson.

    After the Americans blew a four-point lead at Medinah to Europe on the last day, there will be extra scrutiny regarding the PGA's selection.

    Many expected that choice to be David Toms, but Watson has been campaigning behind the scenes for the job and that makes it very hard for the PGA to say no.

    Here are the five most likely candidates to obtain the selection, ranked in order by who would be the most effective.

5. Davis Love III

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    Love will be forever second guessed for taking Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker with his captain's picks as well as for benching the white-hot Keegan Bradley for the Saturday afternoon four-ball session.

    Yet, the players love him, and if the PGA is going to abandon their practice of not giving guys a second go-around, he would be a great story for the long-term if he could get redemption by winning the cup in Scotland.

    Though he was not really an inspiring choice the last time around, Davis' personality fits what the PGA is looking for.

4. David Toms

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    It seems to be his turn.

    He fits the criteria of having won a PGA Championship and is at a point in his career where he is old enough not to qualify any more and young enough to know the team.

    Toms also has a handful of top-10 finishes in majors and 13 wins on the PGA Tour.

    That is not a bad resume by any means, but he has no real outward personality.

    Just because it may be his turn does not mean that he is the right guy for the job now.

    He played on three Ryder Cup teams from 2002-06, and he is familiar with the pressure. He also does not have to worry about setting up the course like Love III.

    Quiet leadership is not what this team needs. They need a Seve Ballesteros guy.

3. Phil Mickelson

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    If they wanted to go really bold here, the PGA should look no further than Phil Mickelson.

    No one has ever accused "Lefty" of being a shrinking violet.

    Mickelson would be very popular with fans and players alike, and he could also determine if he wanted to be a playing captain as well.

    Mickelson is a smart man and will lead one of these Ryder Cup teams in the future.

    Considering that the team needs a kick in the pants, why not Phil? 

2. Larry Nelson

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    Considering his stellar 9-3-1 Ryder Cup record, his three majors, 40 worldwide wins and the 2011 PGA Distinguished Service Award, why has he never captained an international team?

    Still active on the Champions Tour at 65 years old, Nelson knows the game, inside and out.

    Nelson took home the 1981 U.S. Open. If you have the guts to win that and secure 9.5 points in three Ryder Cup's, then you can run a team.

    The PGA thinks highly of him, and it's a shame that he will probably be overlooked.

1. Tom Watson

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    He wants it.

    He also just made the cut last week at the Australian Open at 63 years old—63!

    The five-time Open Champion just owns Scotland. Although Gleneagles is not on the Open Championship rota, Watson will bring invaluable experience as a player and as a previous Ryder Cup captain.

    Watson is a true legend of the game and his word will carry a lot of weight with the team.

    His record of success in Scotland will help him assemble the right matchups with the always unpredictable weather.

    How can the PGA say no?

    Watson is a reserved bulldog, and he is the perfect personality needed for the United States to win the Ryder Cup.