The golf world is weighing in now on the PGA’s announcement that Tom Watson will captain the US Ryder Cup team in 2014.
After consulting their crystal balls, most in the media have agreed with the selection. So, will he be any good? Will he lead Team USA to victory? We won’t know for sure until about 22 months from now but, in the interim, we will certainly get to hear a whole lot more about his captaincy than any of us cares to.
As for myself, I don’t like Tom Watson and the selection for practical and personal reasons. One day in the mid 1980s while attending the Los Angeles PGA Tour event with my step son, I asked Jack Nicklaus for his autograph as he left the putting green. He graciously complied. Minutes later Watson walked by and completely blew off our request. Okay, you say, that is not a good enough reason as some player’s are preoccupied before teeing off, so he should get a pass. Fine.
Here’s my main reason: Watson is supposedly this great friend of Jack Nicklaus and yet, on several occasions, he has tossed him under the bus by referring to Tiger Woods as the greatest golfer ever. Why just yesterday, he said, “He’s (Woods) the best player maybe in the history of the game.” Now I can see where he may feel the need to butter up Woods after slamming him on several occasions for his poor behavior in 2010. But calling Woods the best ever is premature, and all the more so when the designation marginalizes his great friend’s stature in the game.
For his part, Woods proved he’s become the ultimate politician when he said, “I’d like to congratulate Tom Watson on his selection as Ryder Cup captain. I think he’s a really good choice. Tom knows what it takes to win, and that’s our ultimate goal. I hope I have the privilege of joining him on the 2014 United States team.”
Tiger once again took the high road (as he did when Steve Williams talked bad about him in Australia last year) by looking at the positives, with nary a mention of the issues between the two. I suspect that by voicing his approval of Watson, Woods hopes to cut off the constant stream of questions from the media about the two that he’d face between now and the playing of the cup 22 months from now.
It is highly likely that Woods will make the team, so choosing Watson is a mistake because of their frosty relationship. Putting is a big part of winning the Ryder Cup, and it will be hard for any member of the team to take Watson’s advice or encouragement on this very seriously considering that he’s been choking the short ones for nearly 30 years now.
Watson is opinionated and brusque, and he tends to rub some people the wrong way. Now this might work in a long season of coaching a team, but not for an event that only lasts a few days when a relationship could get off to, and stay on, the wrong foot. Finally, Watson is so much older (he’ll be 65 at the Ryder Cup) and so removed from the PGA Tour that he will not be nearly as familiar with the game and personalities of his players, and who should play with whom as a younger coach would.