Watson taking Ryder Cup captain's duties one at a time

By Joe PosnanskiApril 3, 2014, 10:29 pm

KANSAS CITY – So you will ask: What is Tom Watson thinking about as captain of the Ryder Cup team? Tiger’s injury? The emergence of young players like Jordan Spieth and Billy Horschel and others? The United States’ inability to win on European soil since the last time Watson was captain in 1993? 

Not really, no. 

Clothing. These days, he’s thinking a lot about clothing. 

“You’re doing all the stylings and patterns and material and all that,” he says. “And then you have to get it fitted right, make sure everyone is comfortable in it. We’ll have a fitting for as many as 25 players and their caddies at the Memorial. … We’ll say to them, ‘You have a chance on making the Ryder Cup team, come in and get fitted. That’s part of the process to get them comfortable in their stuff.” 

Well, how the clothes fit might seem like a pretty insignificant detail to many of us, but this is Tom Watson, eight-time major champion, a man who almost won the British Open just months before his 60th birthday. Details are not insignificant. Preparation is not insignificant. He says Jack Nicklaus was better than anyone in golf history at preparing for an event. And that – not his great talent – was what made him Jack Nicklaus. 


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Watson is 64 now – he just shot his age for the first time - and he’s a grandfather, and he admits that for the first time last year he saw a significant drop in distance of his drives. He admits that he doesn’t dissect and analyze a golf course the way he once did. He says his game isn’t bad (he just hit one of the most astonishing recovery shots you will ever see) but he says he just isn’t as driven as he used to be. 

But anyone who knows Watson does not underestimate the competitive spirit he brings to this job as Ryder Cup captain. That competitive spirit has been the driving force of his golfing life. He came on the Tour as a relative unknown and promised himself only that he would work harder than anyone else. He did that and within a few years was the best golfer in the world. 

Though he will downplay his role on the team – see below - he has already looked into the inspirational tactics of people like Kansas basketball coach Bill Self. He is slowly getting to know the players – he is going to play five Tour events this year (Masters, Heritage, Greenbrier, British Open and PGA) and says he will get to know them better. 

And as for Tiger Woods – he says he just hopes Woods recovers from his back surgery and can play the game freely again. 

“I’ve been asked a little bit about, ‘What if he doesn’t make the team?’” Watson says. “I’ll pick him for the team. I just hope he gets well and starts to play again without pain. That’s all that matters. 

“Everybody’s been in pain before, every golfer. For some, it’s ended their careers. For others, they’ve beat it and corrected with surgery. Obviously I hope this is corrected with surgery. Obviously, I hope that he can recover and again swing the club without any pain."

Watson has been critical of Woods in years past – particularly his behavior on the golf course – but he says, “We all change.” 

Woods was the U.S. Junior Amateur champion the last time that Watson coached the Ryder Cup team … that was at The Belfry in England, 1993, and the United States needed a last-day comeback that was capped when Davis Love III beat Costantino Rocca on the final hole. Watson has always said that victory is one of the proudest moments of a golf career that included perhaps the most famous shot in golf history (his chip-in at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach) and what is almost certainly the most famous duel in golf history (his “Duel in the Sun” match-up with Jack Nicklaus at the 1977 British Open at Turnberry). Bringing the Ryder Cup back to the United States after five losses in the last six matches is very much on his mind. 

But when I asked him if he has already started his coaching, he dismissed the question. 

“I don’t have to coach,” he said. 

“Really? You won’t coach a little bit?” 

“No, I don’t have to coach,” he said. 

I smiled. I’ve known Tom Watson for more than 20 years.  This is a man who once glared at me when I told him that the RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Inner City) team I was sponsoring would beat the one he was sponsoring. He snapped: “We’ll kick your (bleep).” This is the man who started a local tournament in his hometown for local pros called the “Watson Classic” and then pronounced he had no intention of losing it. This is the man who stared down Trevino and Player and Ray Floyd and Seve Ballesteros and, mostly, Jack Nicklaus. 

I said, “Wait, so you’re saying that you won’t set a tone? You won’t try to create team chemistry? You’re saying that’s not true at all?” 

He kind of looked up sheepishly. “Well, it’s true … to a certain degree. But that won’t happen until later.”

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.