Watson leaning on 'gut factor' for Ryder picks


With qualification now over, the waiting period begins for players who failed to earn one of the nine automatic spots on the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

American captain Tom Watson has three weeks before he will unveil his three captain's picks to round out the squad he will take to Scotland, and the 64-year-old explained Monday that the selection process will be a soft science.

"Over the next three weeks, I'll be very, very focused on the players who are high up in the ranks," said Watson, who will make his picks on Sept. 2. "There's a factor that I look at most, and that's the 'gut factor.' The factor that, can that man play under pressure, can that man hit shots under pressure."

Phil Mickelson was the only player to crack the top nine at the PGA Championship, replacing Jason Dufner in the final event of qualification. That leaves a number of notable Americans in need of a pick from Watson, including Dufner (No. 10 in points), Ryan Moore (No. 11), Keegan Bradley (No. 13), Webb Simpson (No. 15), Brandt Snedeker (No. 20), Hunter Mahan (No. 25) and Tiger Woods (No. 70).

Watson reiterated that he's not afraid to go deep in the standings to make his selections, and there's reason to believe him. When he last captained the squad in 1993, he made the unconventional selection of Raymond Floyd, who was No. 23 on the points list and had served as a non-playing captain at the prior Ryder Cup. The Americans went on to win at the Belfry - the last time the U.S. has captured the trophy on European soil.

"It's pretty open right now," Watson said. "These next three weeks are going to be a big factor in my decision on who is going to get the picks."

Watson admits that the U.S. squad will be an underdog at Gleneagles next month, but he remains confident that he will be able to compile a team that can defeat the Europeans for just the second time since 2000.

"I think the European team is the stronger of the teams right now on paper," he said. "My hope is that these players on our team will start to show better form coming up, the players that I pick for the team will be in good form when I pick them for the team, and we bring the team that I think can win the Cup back."