The PGA of America broke tradition – and turned back the clock – in selecting Tom Watson as the next Ryder Cup captain. The eight-time major champion will be 65 when the matches are played at Gleneagles, and he hasn’t captained a U.S. squad since 1993, also the last time the Americans won on foreign soil.
In a column penned in April’s issue of Golf World magazine, Ian Poulter wrote that turning to such a veteran presence might give the Europeans a “big advantage” in what could be a “David and Goliath affair.”
“In many ways (Paul McGinley) will know his players better than Tom will know his, if for no other than reason that he is a lot younger and so much closer to them in terms of playing,” Poulter wrote, according to Reuters. “That may prove a big advantage. He will know what makes us tick and what we like – that’s healthy.
“Tom, because of his age, will inevitably be slightly more detached from his team. He won’t have played as much with the current crop of players.”
With both teams likely to be evenly matched, the U.S. made a splash in announcing Watson as the next captain. Instead of countering with a big name of its own – say, Colin Montgomerie – the European Tour’s 15-man tournament committee instead chose McGinley, the well-respected (and relatively lesser-known) Irishman.
“We have to look at it as a bit of a David and Goliath affair,” Poulter wrote. “No one is expecting Paul to go toe-to-toe with Tom – he can’t. Paul just needs to be Paul.”