The Golf Blog: Did PGA of America set Tom Watson up to fail at Ryder Cup?

mulligan, 29 September 2014, Comments Off on The Golf Blog: Did PGA of America set Tom Watson up to fail at Ryder Cup?
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The Golf Blog says: It was a strange decision from the start. When the PGA of America announced it had selected 63 year old Tom Watson as the next captain of the US Ryder Cup team, the choice was a little eyebrow-raising. Watson had already captained the US Team–but that was way back 20 years ago in 1993. That’s the last time the US team had won on foreign soil, so the PGA of America must have been hoping Tom could bring back the magic. Plus, people in Scotland love Watson, almost as one of their own. So there was a hint of logic in the PGA of America’s choice.

But there were numerous problems with selecting Watson as a sentimental favorite. Paramount among them was the fact that the Ryder Cup has become a much bigger production than it was in 1993, requiring the captain to take on a lot more responsibilities (including the ceremonies, uniforms, media requests, not to mention strategizing about the team play and the added pressure of 20 years of defeats for the U.S. team). Moreover, the course where the Ryder Cup would be played wasn’t a British links-style course, the kind of course where Watson’s knowledge and experience could actually help the players with local knowledge. Perhaps the choice of Watson would have made a lot of sense if the Ryder Cup were being played at a British Open course. But Gleneagles is no St. Andrews.

Finally, add in the fact that many of the players are 30 or 40 years younger than Watson, and it’s not hard to surmise that a good number of the players simply had not established any rapport with Watson from the past. He may be some of their idols, but it’s doubtful that many of them have ever spent any serious time with him until this week. Contrast that with Paul McGinley, the captain of the European team, who appeared to be the European’s team members’ big brother.

So if Watson deserves criticism for his decisions and uninspired captaincy at the Ryder Cup (he does), so does the PGA of America. The PGA of America selected Watson without thinking through that sentimental decision. Watson hadn’t coached a team for 20 years. He was the oldest Ryder Cup coach in history. Not sure on what basis the PGA of America decided that Watson could win where so many US captains (who were younger, more energetic, and more connected to the current PGA Tour players) had failed since 1995.


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