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Age won't weary Watson

Updated: 2013-09-26 07:15
By Agence France-Presse in Gleneagles, Scotland ( China Daily)

Elderly US Ryder Cup captain seeking redemption and a tweak in selection rules

Tom Watson defended his "oldest-ever" US Ryder Cup captaincy controversy at celebrations at Gleneagles to mark a 'Year to Go' to the 2014 event on Tuesday.

Watson at 64 is the oldest to be appointed a Ryder Cup captain on either the United States or European teams since Sam Snead who, at 57, captained the US to a draw at Royal Birkdale in 1969 to retain the trophy.

Watson, who first captained a US team in 1993, has brushed off claims that he is too old.

"They know I've been a captain of the Ryder Cup. And they know that I know that they know, and that's all that matters."

At Gleneagles, Watson called on the tournament organizers to do away with the practice of 'wild-card' picks for future Ryder Cups.

While Watson has taken the step to reduce from four to three his 'wild-card' picks, he surprised PGA of America president, Ted Bishop, who traveled to Scotland with Watson, in calling for abandoning the notion of 'wild-card' picks altogether.

"If you really look at it, the purist form of Ryder Cup would be no picks, no captain's picks, 12 players who qualify," said Watson.

"That's the way I qualified my first two Ryder Cups, I think it was, or maybe three. All three of them, you had 12 players and no picks. Maybe that's the way it should go back to.

"I reduced my picks this year from four to three, and was thinking actually two, because I wanted the players who are playing, to get on the Ryder Cup Team, to have that as a goal. If they got there, then they have earned something very, very special. And maybe we should go back to no picks."

McGinley, who also will have three wild-card picks, reacted to Watson's call saying: "There is a different dynamic on the European side when we have so many players playing on the PGA Tour. So let's defer that one, thank you."

And while Watson will be seeking to end European dominance, with Europe having won seven of the past nine encounters, he also intends to use as a motivator Europe's 'come-from-behind' miracle at Medinah as a motivation to return the Cup to the States for a first time since 2008.

"The European team has been absolutely sensational and I have to say (that) even though it left a pit in my stomach after our defeat this last September at Medinah," said Watson.

"I have to say that if you look at it objectively, that Ryder Cup was sensational, sensational theater. It really was something to see.

"I'm not saying that it didn't affect our players. I know for a fact that our players through my conversations with our captain last year, Davis Love, he said our players were absolutely depressed over the fact that they lost and it kept with them for awhile.

"Actually, I hope that feeling remains for some of those players who will be on my team and our team coming up next year and be able to use that as a motivator.

"I don't think there's going to be much motivation necessary, but maybe just a word or two about, we don't want this to happen again, will maybe carry them over the hump, and they may make a few more putts when they need to."

(China Daily 09/26/2013 page23)