Tom Watson Hoping 2014 Ryder Cup Won't Be a Royal Flush
There was a lot to like about the performance of the American golfers in Ryder Cup competition vs. Europe last fall.
The first two days of the competition featured outstanding play by the Americans as they built up a commanding 10-6 lead.
However, when the United States had a chance to put away their European rivals, the American team fell apart as the Europeans rallied for a dramatic 14 1/2-13 1/2 win at Medinah Country Club in suburban Chicago on the third and final day of the competition.
The United States has lost seven of the last nine Ryder Cup competitions.
The next meeting between the top American and European golfers is nearly two years away, but the Americans took their first step in preparing to reclaim the Ryder Cup by naming Tom Watson captain of the American team.
The pick makes sense for a couple of reasons. The United States has not won a Ryder Cup contested on European soil since 1993. Watson was the captain of the American team that won the competition at The Belfry in Europe.
Watson also had stellar success in Europe during the height of his playing career. He recorded five British Open victories and European golf fans have always looked at him quite favorably. Watson is an eight-time major winner.
Watson knows there is no secret to the Americans getting back into the win column in the prestigious event. It's all about executing under pressure.
Watson spoke to Bleacher Report about his position as captain and how much he wants to help the Americans win the event again.
"It's about bringing a competitive and confident attitude to the event and having great players who can play their best golf in this event," Watson said. "I'm going to want competitive players. Guys who are pumped up to be there and can focus on the task at hand."
Watson says that the Americans are not going to be able to avoid the pressure of trying to turn the competition around.
"It's not about having a mindset so they can stay calm and avoid the pressure," Watson said. "You can forget about that. The whole world is watching and they want to defend their title and we want to win it. That creates pressure and you might as well embrace it—because you simply can't get away from it."
Watson, a Kansas City native, is not thoroughly obsessed with golf. He is a sports fan and he roots for the Kansas City Royals in baseball.
Throughout the 1960s and 70s, the Royals and the rest of their American League teammates regularly took a beating from the National League in the All-Star game. Watson compared the American golfers' plight in the Ryder Cup to what the American League went through before they finally turned their All-Star game performance around.
"It was bad for the American League for many years," Watson remembered. "They simply couldn't beat the National League. But nothing lasts forever and the American League finally found their way. Then they dominated the All-Star game for years and the National League couldn't get a win no matter what it did.
"That's what the U.S. would like to do in Ryder Cup. It begins with getting that first win and that's what we're going to try to do in 2014."
Watson would not give anything away in terms of which golfers he is looking at, but he says he wants tough-minded players who can play in difficult conditions.
The 2014 Ryder Cup will be played at Gleneagles in Scotland, and Watson says that the competitors will likely have to play in wind, rain and nasty conditions.
"This is not going to be like playing golf in the optimum conditions of Florida or California," Watson said. "These golfers are going to be tested by the elements and I want players who are not going to be bothered by playing in the wind and rain. That's what I mean when I say I want tough-minded players."
Watson will be 65 at the 2014 Ryder Cup, and that will make him the oldest captain in the history of the event. Watson is enthusiastic about taking the job and is glad to be the team's captain.
"I waited for that call for 20 years," Watson said. "I'm glad to be in this position."
Watson knows he can't guarantee the U.S. the victory that it wants so badly. But he does plan on helping his players as much as possible.
"I know a little bit about competing over there and I will provide whatever assistance I can," Watson said. "But it will always come down to the execution of the players."
Watson should be able to give the American golfers a suitable road map to play their best golf at Gleneagles. He understands the pressure of Ryder Cup golf and what it takes to win.
The rest will be up to the members of the American Ryder Cup team.
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