What would the Ryder Cup be without captain’s picks? For sitting 2014 Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson: divine.
Watson said Tuesday in a Ryder Cup news conference at Gleneagles, the Scottish site of the 2014 Ryder Cup, that he believes the “purest form” of the matches would pit two teams of 12 against each other that simply qualified on a merit-based rubric — with no captain’s picks.
When Watson assumed the captaincy, he made the decision to reduce from four to three the number of wild-card picks he could make after qualifying ends next summer following the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla in Kentucky. The previous three captains, beginning with Paul Azinger in 2008, bumped up the number of captain’s picks with the hopes of picking players in hot form at the end of qualifying or those who would best pair with the eight players that qualified on points.
After Watson made his call on captain’s picks in Scotland, he asked opposing captain Paul McGinley about that prospect. Citing the European diaspora to the PGA Tour, McGinley said he would prefer to keep the current system Europe uses.
The Europeans have been making captain’s picks since 1979, introducing them when continental Europe was integrated into the erstwhile Great Britain & Ireland team in the hopes of making the matches more competitive with a broader talent pool from which to pluck 12 players.
The 2014 matches will mark the 25th anniversary of the first time the United States began making captain’s picks to fill out their Ryder Cup team. Curiously, who was one of those captain’s picks? Tom Watson. He went 1-1-1 in a draw with the Europeans at The Belfry, where Watson was the victorious captain four years later.