Tom Watson Says That Tiger Woods Is an Automatic Ryder Cup Pick If Healthy

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Tom Watson Says That Tiger Woods Is an Automatic Ryder Cup Pick If Healthy
Andrew Redington/Getty Images

During an interview with Jeff Ritter of Golf Magazine, 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson confirmed that if Tiger Woods is healthy, he will be an automatic captain's pick.

"I've said it before that he's an automatic pick," Watson told Ritter. "You can't have a player of that caliber not on the team."

While Watson was quick to confirm his selection of Woods if healthy, he did also cover any potential decisions in the other direction by saying that his decision would also need to be "weighed next to what his [Woods] health is," and that "if he's [Woods] not physically right, Tiger will be the first one to tell me."

Watson told Ritter that Phil Mickelson is also at the top of his list of potential captain's picks for the 2014 Ryder Cup, which will be held at GleneaglesPGA Centenary Course in late September.

"You'd have to think about Phil, with his worth to the teams and the inspiration he's been to our players," Watson said when asked about his other captain's picks.

While Watson has made his thoughts regarding Woods and Mickelson very clear, these two veteran giants of the game could put Watson in a very precarious position when it comes time for him to make his captain's selections.

Woods is just coming off of back surgery and more than likely won't return to the golf course until mid-July or mid-August at the earliest, whichdepending upon Woods' official return datecould be just four to six weeks prior to the start of the Ryder Cup matches.

While Mickelson still has time to turn things around this season, his last top-10 finish came at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship back in January, and he has missed the cut in both the Masters and The Players Championship.

In addition, Watson is not dealing with Ryder Cup records the likes of Ian Poulter, Colin Montgomerie or Nick Faldo in regards to Woods and Mickelson.

Woods has a career 13-17-3 record in the matches and has been a member of just one winning Ryder Cup team in seven appearances. The lone upside to Woods' Ryder Cup record is his performance in single matches, where he has a 4-1-2 career record.

Mickelson's Ryder Cup record has been just as bad in his nine appearances in the matches. Lefty has a 14-18-6 record and actually has a losing record in singles matches at 4-5-1.

While there are still several months to go before Watson will be required to make his captain's selections, players with strong Ryder Cup records such as Keegan Bradley (3-1-0) and Zach Johnson (6-4-1) are also outside of the top nine players who will automatically qualify for the team based on points accumulated during the past two years.

At this point, it is also very difficult to predict what players outside of the top nine may be on hot streaks heading into the matches.

Tiger and Phil will always be, well, Tiger and Phil. But it is probably not the wisest decision for Watson to be virtually assuring any playereven Woods or Mickelsona spot on his 2014 Ryder Cup team.

If things don't drastically improve for both Woods and Mickelson in the next three months, Watson may base his captain's choices on name recognition and past successes rather than current form, which is not the intended purpose of captain's selections, nor is it what a good leader should do in order to put his team in the best possible position to win.

While many are thrilled that Watson was selected by the PGA of America to captain the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team, few would be overly excited about him all but assuring two players a spot on his roster, particularly when one of those players is sitting at home recovering from back surgery while the other hasn't recorded a top-10 finish in five months.

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