PGA hope Watson brings winning edge
Tom Watson won seven major golf championships in Scotland during his illustrious playing career and the PGA of America hopes that translates into a US Ryder Cup victory.
Watson will not be wielding a club when the US face Europe in 2014 at Gleneagles in Scotland, but the newly-minted Ryder Cup captain aims to inspire and impart confidence to counter a Europe team that has won seven of the last nine events.
"We're tired of losing. I always said that early in my career, I learned to win by hating to lose," Watson, 63, said about a US team that should have earned an advanced degree in winning by now after Europe's stretch of success.
"It's about time to start winning again for our team."
Watson is a master at crossing the Atlantic to fill his trophy case, with five British Open titles, four of them taken on Scottish courses, and three Senior Opens won in Scotland.
Beating Europe's best on their home soil is a tall order, but Watson said at a news conference on the 80th floor of the Empire State Building, that his track record brings credibility.
"It brings to the table maybe a little bit more of a calm to the team members that I've done well over there, that I understand how the game is played on links golf and they can come to me maybe with questions about the golf course," he said.
"It may give them a sense, this guy has been there before and he's been successful before and we're going to be a success because he's there leading us on, or setting the table."
Watson was also the last US captain to win a Ryder Cup match away from home, leading the 1993 team to victory.
PGA president Ted Bishop said he believed Watson was the best man to try and stop the slide.
"We certainly hope that trend can change. We feel he's certainly the perfect person to do this, based on his playing record in Scotland," said Bishop.
"We also know about the unique weather challenges that Scotland will probably present and I think we will agree that he is recognised as one of the top players under challenging conditions."
Watson said the captain's job was to help out the players and that perhaps his practical background could be beneficial.
"First of all, simple mundane things, (like) the time change," noted Watson, who said he resisted any notions of tinkering with his swing until he had allowed several days to pass for his body to adjust.
Watson said he always made a point of going overseas early before an Open championship to adapt to the change and would encourage his players to do the same.
He also said the European side had done a masterful job in recent years of gaining an edge through their choice of venues. "They play at golf courses where they play a yearly tournament on the European Tour. "That gives them an advantage.
"They set the pins there and they set the green speeds there," said Watson. "The green speeds may be a little slower. Our players overseas have had a hard time getting the ball to the hole."
All that said, there was no secret formula on how to overtake Europe other than to just play better.
"The Europeans have outplayed us," Watson said was the simple answer to the US Ryder Cup woes.