Watson stands by decision not to pick Horschel

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Tom Watson added Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson to the U.S. team. (Getty)

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson sent a text to Billy Horschel late last week as Horschel was making his run winning the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup in Atlanta.

Watson’s message?

“Billy, you’re a day late, but not a dollar short,” Watson texted.

In a U.S. Ryder Cup teleconference Wednesday, Watson said he had some fun last week texting back and forth with Horschel, who was on Watson’s “radar” early in the year. Watson told Horschel he was looking at him back in February, when they were doing a photo shoot together for a Polo ad.

“I like your golf swing, I like your fundamentals and love the attitude on the golf course,” Watson told him.

Watson followed Horschel throughout this year, but Horschel didn’t make his move until it was too late for serious consideration as one of Watson’s three captain’s picks. Horschel won both his FedEx Cup playoff events after Watson made his picks.­­

“He just didn’t perform well enough to get on the team,” Watson said of Horschel’s record up until the deadline for the picks.

With growing talk that the PGA should move the captain’s picks back until the FedEx Cup playoffs are complete, Watson isn’t in favor of that. It would mean the captain would make his picks a week before the team leaves for the Ryder Cup instead of three weeks before.

“In ’93, I made my two captain’s picks the day after the PGA, six weeks before the Ryder Cup,” Watson said. “Logistically, there are so many different things that go into it, just in getting the players over there and getting ready ... get their families involved, get their families and friends over there. It would be awfully tough to make the decision the week before the Ryder Cup.”

Other points Watson made in his teleconference:

• Europe’s stunning come-from-behind victory at Medinah two years ago didn’t hurt just the Americans on that team.

“When I watched that Sunday, I had a pit in my stomach for several days afterwards,” Watson said. “It just stayed there.”

Watson wants the Americans to take their memory of that loss to Scotland next week as motivation.

“These fellas, many of whom played on that team, remember that like it was yesterday,” Watson said. “I want those players to talk to the players who weren't on that team, and tell them how disappointed they were, and to get them pumped up, and not let that happen again.”

• Watson said he has picked the brains of recent American captains for ideas, including Paul Azinger, who led the U.S. team to its last win six years ago at Valhalla. Azinger famously instituted a “pod system,” linking players in small groups on and off the course.

“The pod system has very beneficial elements to it, and I'll be using it in some modified form in the preparation of this next week,” Watson said.

• Watson was asked if the Europeans have prevailed in seven of the last nine Ryder Cups because they have more skill or more heart.

“I think the bottom line is that over the time, their players have simply played better,” Watson said. “Whether it's a heart issue, I can't determine that, I wasn't on those teams. But I know one thing: To win a Ryder Cup, you've got to have heart. Bottom line, you've got to have heart and you've got to have `never say die’ in you. That's what I've stressed to my players this last year, calling them, being with them. The most important thing is that you go out there and fight and scratch and never give in on any shot in the entire match. You go out there with one purpose in mind, to hit the best possible shot every time you draw the club back.”