Watson concerned as U.S. Ryder Cup team battered


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – It’s been a rough few weeks for Tom Watson, as the U.S. Ryder Cup captain watched injuries and a self-imposed absence change the complexion of his American team.

“There is concern,” he said Friday at Valhalla. “We’re falling like flies right now. That’s a concern, but there’s time for recovery. There’s a lot of golf played between now and when I make those three picks.”

The deadline is Sept. 2. But if this week is any indication, there likely will be even more shakeups.

At the PGA, Matt Kuchar (back spasms) and Jason Dufner (bulging discs in neck) withdrew from the tournament. Watson hasn’t spoken with either player about their ailment, but he said he was told that Kuchar’s injury is considered minor. The same can’t be said for Dufner, who was No. 8 on the points list but said Thursday that he was unsure when he would compete again.

Current U.S. Ryder Cup points standings

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Dustin Johnson, of course, announced last week that he was taking a break from competitive golf. He was No. 5 in the points standings, which means another spot opened up on a team that suddenly doesn’t look as strong as it did just a few months ago.

After winning the Masters, Bubba Watson missed two consecutive major cuts and reacted adversely to the wet, sloppy conditions at Valhalla. (Good luck in Gleneagles in the fall.) Jimmy Walker has cooled since his torrid start to the season. Jim Furyk has played as well as anyone, but his Ryder Cup record leaves much to be desired.

The greatest mystery of all, however, remains Tiger Woods, who surprised many by teeing it up this week in Kentucky, but his form and health would make him a questionable wild-card selection. 

At this rate, Watson might as well use one of his captain’s picks on a physiotherapist.

“Underdog?” Watson said, repeating the question. “It’s too early to tell how our team is going to pan out, who is going to be on the team, what type of shape they’re going to be in. Sept. 2, you can ask me then.”