HOYLAKE, England – Two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson said that he had planned an impromptu trip to Gleneagles, where he invited the top-20 ranked players in points to join him on a scouting mission for September’s Ryder Cup.
That mission was this past weekend up in Scotland. Whether anything was accomplished seems to be a question.
Watson says that he learned a lot about Gleneagles’ Centenary Course. He knows that it favors a high-ball hitter. He says that the greens look small, but play big. If the weather cooperates, there will be birdies aplenty, he contends.
While all that intel may have helped the captain, it didn't help many players because only two made the journey. Watson played with Keegan Bradley on Saturday and Jim Furyk on Sunday. Bradley is currently No. 18 in Cup points and needs to rally to make the team or deserve consideration for a captain’s pick. Furyk is No. 6 in points and can safely book his travel plans to Scotland for the festivities.
Still, it seems a bit concerning that only two players joined Watson. (Patrick Reed, 10th in points, told GolfChannel.com two weeks ago that he planned to attend, but he's been in Hoylake since Friday and played a practice round with Tiger Woods Saturday at Royal Liverpool.)
“I had to wait until a certain time, and I did it after the U.S. Open, started asking the players, and I didn’t expect too many to be able to make it,” Watson said Monday at Royal Liverpool. “These guys have different plans. As I said, they played in a couple different tournaments. It didn’t bother me. If you’re asking me that, it doesn’t bother me at all.”
Watson downplayed the lack of participation. He says that, in the end, it was positive for him to play the golf course, which will allow him to understand the characteristics he needs to find in his three captain's picks.
“I wanted to see how the golf course fit players,” Watson said. “I got a chance to see the golf course play two different ways. I'm really happy that I did it and I got a lot out of it. I really did. A lot out of it to understand what the golf course serves up to the player.”