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« Oakley Suing Rory And Nike For Breach | Main | "Old Tom wasn’t protecting par, he was providing practical solutions to very real problems" »
Thursday
Dec132012

Ryder Cup Captaincy Reviews Are In: Watson Is Wonderful & We'll Know How Wonderful In Just 21 Months!

You have to hand it to the PGA of America, this was no Friday news dump. The coverage was extensive considering we are talking about an event 21 months out on foreign soil.

The media reviews for the media-friendly Tom Watson were, not surprisingly, raves. Just a few of them...

Ron Sirak for GolfDigest.com:

Give the PGA of America -- and Bishop -- credit for this: They are trying something different. Clearly, picking a player to be captain who was looking for something to do while biding time between the PGA Tour and the Champions Tour was not working.

Look for Watson to be loaded with bold innovations and a dynamic managing style. Look for a radical new approach to how the U.S. side treats the Ryder Cup.

"Well, I really haven't thought much about changing the approach," Watson said when asked what he would do differently. "I'm going to probably do the same things, try to make it easy for the players. The PGA of America does that." OK, let's hold that innovation thought for now.

One thing we do know is that Watson will spend the next 20 months until the Ryder Cup being asked how things are going with Tiger Woods, whom Watson tweaked a bit post scandal by saying he needed to show more respect for the game.

Michael Bamberger at golf.com:

Watson will be 65 at Gleneagles, by far the oldest U.S. Ryder Cup captain ever. A bunch of the players will be half his age. There will be gaps between their lives and their interests and his. But if the players are smart, they will look at the example his golfing life provides and take a page from it. How he embraced bad weather, bad bounces and an often crooked driver. The only current American player who is really cut from the same mold is Tiger Woods.

They are not friends. Watson has said various high-and-mighty things about Woods over the years, including that Woods "needs to respect the game more." (Who made Watson chief of the respect police?) Watson was nothing but conciliatory at Thursday's press conference.

Larry Fine on Watson saying his "relationship with Tiger is fine," which is the best way of saying that can't stand each other but will put on a good show in 2014 or wherever else they are forced to act conciliatory. Thankfully they have 21 months to get to know each other better. I suggest someone pair these lovebirds paired together at the Masters and Open Championship!

Kevin Garside on Thursday's hatchet burying.

 

Watson responded in kind. "He's the best player maybe in the history of the game. And if he's not on the team for any unforeseen reason [via automatic qualification], and I'm sure he will be, you can bet that he's going to be No 1 on my pick list. My relationship with Tiger is fine. Whatever has been said before is water under the bridge. No issues."

The Guardian's Ewan Murray on the bond Watson has with Scottish galleries.

Watson is so closely linked to the Scottish golfing scene that many in the small nation would consider him one of their own. The feeling is mutual; Watson adores Scotland. During a famous career Watson claimed four of his five Open Championships in the country. In 2009 he came within an Open play-off of writing one of the most epic chapters in sporting history. Once again the drama took place on Scottish soil.

Watson's own country has called on him to defy age one more time, in turning round a pretty dismal Ryder Cup run.

Martin Dempster touched on the issue of Watson's age (65) in 2014.

While Watson’s age for such a role – he’ll be three years older than Great Britain’s J H Taylor (1933) and eight older than American Sam Snead (1969) – has been called into question, especially with the whole scale of the Ryder Cup having grown since he was last involved in the event, his answer to that was as straight to the point as he has always been.

“The responsibility is a challenge but I’ve been there before and I welcome it,” he added. “The idea of being captain for a team of youngsters will be questioned. Why is Watson, an old guy, being the captain? I deflect that very simply by saying: ‘We play the same game’. I play against these kids at The Masters. I play against them at the British Open and the Greenbrier Classic. We play the same game – they understand that.

There's some fun stuff from the SI/golf.com gang kicking around the press conference and announcement.

Herre: Agree that the Scots love Watson, but I'm more concerned about how the U.S. players feel about him. No matter what Woods and Watson say, they are not close and never will be. I keep thinking back to 2004 and Hal Sutton and his assistant, Jackie Burke Jr., and what a disaster that was. There was a lot of "time to stop losing" and "just play better" talk back then, too.

Shipnuck: Exactly, Jim. The old-school hard-ass act doesn't work with these players, as Sutton/Burke proved. Then again, what does work? All sorts of different personalities have failed as U.S. Ryder Cup captain. Let's not forget that the Ryder Cup is showbiz, and Watson gives us tons to have fun with over the next two years, whereas the vanilla Toms was going to be death to sportswriters. So if the PGA wanted to create buzz, this pick is already a home run.

And finally, Alex Miceli does a nice job reconstructing the backstory of Tom Watson's surprise selection by the PGA of America and specifically, new president Ted Bishop.

Bishop started with former Ryder Cup captains. Tom Lehman became an early advocate of the pick. But maybe the more interesting discussion occurred with a non-captain.

“I called Steve (Stricker) – I think it was in February – and he was at home, and said I want to talk to you about some Ryder Cup things,” Bishop said, recalling the discussion. “We talked, and I brought this thing up about the captain and being a former major-championship winner, and I’ll never forget this, just totally unsolicited, he said, ‘I don’t know why the PGA of America doesn’t bring one of the older guys back, like a Tom Watson.’ ”

Bishop had his man. As he talked up his idea with former captains and PGA officials, a consensus developed.

A couple of weeks after the Americans’ stunning loss to Europe in the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah, Bishop made the trip to Kansas City to visit with the Watsons to make certain that they were on board.

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Reader Comments (31)

The coverage validates the PGA pick according to their parameters. Nelson wouldn't generate this level of buzz, and unfortunately buzz is all the PGA of America cares about.
I'm sure Ian Poulter will be happy to oblige -- and he can whip up the troops so that all the US players hear at Gleneagles is "bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz".....
12.14.2012 | Unregistered CommenterGhillie
Caption for Empire State Bldg obs deck pic:
"Who says I'm against distance finders? I'll need this one to find Tiger."
12.14.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMark B
'Murican here, I'm for the Euros in '14.
12.14.2012 | Unregistered Commenterfyg
whatever you do tom don't say anything bad about barrack hussein!
12.14.2012 | Unregistered Commenterbeljans brigade
I have to laugh when listening to Watson and Bishop and Tour Pros talk about "the goal is winning the Ryder Cup". Duh, like that is a new thought with Watson. Tell me the name of a captain who spent two years talking up a moral victory.
The role of the captain is massively overestimated.
It was Poulter-not JMO that inspired Europe's win.
Mind you as captains go this is a pretty darn good choice!
12.14.2012 | Unregistered Commenterchico
Of what possible relevance is Watson's age? Is the Captain supposed to play video games with the players?
12.14.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBuffett
Agree with Buffett--If this works, maybe they'll think a little more broadly about captains.
12.14.2012 | Unregistered Commentersmails
Bet the farm that Stricker is one of the vice captains in Scotland.
12.14.2012 | Unregistered Commenterfyg
Buffett and smails, don't you know that the captain is supposed to be able to relate to the players. Remember how ineffective Wooden was when he got a few years on him, shoot after he turned fifty and was 30 years older than his players he barely won any games at all.
Whadya bet Tom tells Kuchar to leave his ping pong paddles at home!
12.14.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
As for this from Bamberger: (Who made Watson chief of the respect police?)

The answer is NOBODY. But that also doesn't mean that Tom Watson or Geoff Shackelford or BenSeattle or Digsouth or anybody else with a love and concern for the game cannot voice a valid opinion of a player who consistently disgraced himself with club tosses and outbursts of vile profanity in front of men, women and children. (Including my then-13-year-old on the sixth tee of the NEC Championship at Sahalee in 2003. To this day I continue to kick myself for not speaking up. "How dare you, Mr. Woods? That language and that behavior is not appreciated by anyone in this gallery!" Instead, I just shook my head when my kid when bug-eyed.)

Maybe Watson will captain the U.S. to a win at Gleneagles; maybe he won't. But I can assure that for the next 21 months, it will be only the concern of the non-stop blatherers in the media who ask the same mindless questions over and over and over and over and over.......
12.14.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBenSeattle
Ben I'm guessing you don't watch much prime-time network TV what with all the vile profanity and such....
12.14.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
<< Ben I'm guessing you don't watch much prime-time network TV what with all the vile profanity and such.... >>

To answer your question, DTF:

1) No, I don't.

2) What the HELL are you talking about? I define "network TV" as ABC, CBS and NBC. Tell me ONE SHOW on these networks that offers "vile profanity" in prime time.

3) Your point is irrelevant to the discussion. Sure, some will disagree with me on this (especially considering that profanity is "okay" in the NFL, NBA and NHL) but those who say 'Tiger cusses.... so what?' I say this: golf is a different sport, a game -- even at the highest level -- with a 400-year-old code of courtesy, dignity and respect. In it's simplest parlance it is "a gentleman's game."

Have I ever cussed on a golf course a typically wayward, mis-hit scronk? HELL YA. But I didn't do it in front of paying spectators and unsuspecting women and children who came to watch and admire Woods, not get an earful of unanticipated filth.

There IS a difference.... do you agree?
12.14.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBenSeattle
Ben, while the original and only legitimate version is now in re-runs it's obvious you never watched 2 & 1/2 Men....I'd describe the language in that show as GRAPHIC....and I for one loved it ;-)
12.14.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Didn't we learn at Medinah that Ryder Cup captain is the most overrated job in golf? The captain doesn't make any bogeys or three-putt any greens. It's not as though Davis Love was a genius for two days and then a complete idiot. Bottom line? Makes no difference who you put in that position.
12.14.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeff Smith
Oh Jeff, it makes a difference, it sure does... Especially when you look at captains who thump vs. those that don't. There's been a real thump thump theme lately, 3 of the last 4....them there thumpers are 0-3. So at least we are getting away from that....
12.14.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
@Ben - Seriously, a different game for 400 years? How about the PGA Tour Caucasian only policy, Terrible Tommy Bolt, Sir Walter Hagen. The game has, at least in the last 100 years had plenty to be ashamed of, plenty of on tour club throwing, and plenty of womanizers. I love the game and I do think the game is different, and maybe better, but not morally superior.
12.14.2012 | Unregistered CommenterHBL
Hey HBL, come ON now man......let's NOT let the FACTS get in the way of a good story! OK? Seriously dude, we can't have any more of that...
12.14.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Ben, get off your high horse. Ever take your kids to a football,baseball,hockey game? Volleyball, tiddlywinks?
Vulgarity is just the way it's nowadays, there is no civility left in America. And please, don't even get me started on the gun culture in your country, let's ask the good people of Conneticut how they feel about guns today. What the he'll has happened to your once great country?
12.14.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrad
"What the he'll has happened to your once great country? "

THAT is the most meaningful question one could ask.
12.14.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D
@BenSeattle: Your point is sound, but your voltage is running a little high on this one. Woods has had several truly awful moments, but considering he's had a microphone and camera in his face on virtually every shot the last 15 years, his on-course comportment in general rates no worse than a "C" grade. If you were to take away five or so well-chronicled outbursts, the grade would probably be a "B."
12.14.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDoctor
@ Brad....A lot has happened to and in this great country of ours, definitely not all good. And yet, people still keep choosing to leave their countries and move here. I'm not quite sure what that says for the rest of you all...
12.14.2012 | Unregistered CommenterHilltop
DTF--You love "Two and a Half Men"...??...TMI
12.14.2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike S.
<< Ben, get off your high horse. Ever take your kids to a football,baseball,hockey game? >>

Well, if you had read more carefully, I'm fully aware that emotional, profane language is common in sport. I also recognize that the ears are commonly assaulted from fans in the stands as well. And while such vulgarity may be easily found and the trend is running to increased boorishness throughout society, you will forgive me if I continue to maintain that Golf Is Better Than That. Now, lest anyone think that I'm a sheltered prude, be advised that not only have I been well exposed as a participant in high school football and basketball but as a one-time sportscaster, I've been privy to locker rooms on both the collegiate and professional level. I've not only heard it all but I've probably said it all as well.

But -- forgive me for this -- I still like my golfers to act like men... men with a sense of dignity and decency. More than once I've picked up a game with a guy who spewed shabby language from the first tee on. (Apparently, people who can't play a lick seem to think that if they cuss up a storm at every shot, it will create the impression that for some reason TODAY is the one time in their lives that they're not knocking it around at scratch. Sorry: I'm not as dumb as I look..) My reaction has been the same: rather than try to determine a way to restrain the cusser, I'll simply say, "I'm going to sit here for a while. You just do on ahead by yourself." I see no reason to force myself to endure some garbage-mouth chop for the entire four+ hours.

Believe me, I know many people disagree with me. "Hey, there's cussing in all sports, Tiger and golf should be no exception." Perhaps I cannot affect that thinking but it doesn't mean I have to like it. You see, I just happen to adhere to the antiquated notion that golf is the Best Game of All and that those who play it ARE held to a higher standard. I thought that Watson's letter to Augusta National concerning Gary McCord was an unnecessary cheap shot but when he called out Tiger Woods and said what many, many of us were thinking.... well, that time Tom Watson was dead on.

So sue me.
12.14.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBenSeattle
Dang you're sharp Mike S...........veritable stud hoss!

What're gonna do for an encore on your 2nd post you badass you!!
12.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
"people still keep choosing to leave their countries and move here. "

Sure they do, because we have lowered our standards to fit theirs.
12.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D
Mike, How dare you make a rude remark against the almighty DTF, only he is allowed to challenge others with his factual knowledge. Please don't do something like that again, we would all hate to lose his incredible insight into golf.(ha ha)
12.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterChester H
Are you guys ganging up on me? Come on now that ain't fair!
12.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
No worries DTF, I've got your back :o)
12.15.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D

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