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Watson leading Ryder troops into Scotland

Desperate Americans break from precedent

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NEW YORK -- Weary of two decades of defeat in Europe, the Americans are breaking from precedent with a captain uniquely suited for the 2014 Ryder Cup in Scotland.

Tom Watson will be by far the oldest man to fill the role and the first repeat captain for the U.S. since 1987. But he's also the last American to lead the team to victory on the road, and he knows how to win in blustery Scotland.

"We are just really tired of losing the Ryder Cup," PGA of America President Ted Bishop said Thursday during a news conference at the Empire State Building.

It won't be easy.

The Americans have lost seven of the last nine Ryder Cups and have not won away from home since 1993, when Watson was the captain at The Belfry in England. They are coming off a staggering loss this year at Medinah, where Europe strung together a remarkable rally from a 10-6 deficit going into the final day to win by one point.

Watson is the first repeat U.S. captain since Jack Nicklaus in 1987, when the Ryder Cup was played on his home course of Muirfield Village in Ohio. Watson becomes the seventh American to get more than one shot.

"Tom Watson will do a fine job," Nicklaus said. "Tom always has been a wonderful golfer and he remains one, but Tom is also a good leader."

His selection received an immediate endorsement from Tiger Woods. The Stanford alums have never been particularly close, and Watson has criticized Woods for not showing respect for the game with his demeanour on the course.

"I think he's a really good choice," Woods said in a statement. "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."

Watson went out of his way Thursday to praise Woods as "the best player maybe in the history of the game."

"My relationship with Tiger is fine," he said. "Whatever has been said before is water under the bridge. No issues."

Watson breaks the PGA of America's prototype in a big way. The eight-time major champion will be 65 when the Ryder Cup is played at Gleneagles. Sam Snead was 57 when he was captain in 1969, and the oldest European captain was John Jacobs (56) in 1981.

Watson hopes to play more PGA Tour events the next two years to spend more time around his future team.

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 14, 2012 C8

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