Though the next Ryder Cup is still more than 18 months away, the man who will lead the U.S. squad at Gleneagles has already offered a blueprint as to how he will make his captain's picks.
'It will be easy for you to determine who I'm going to pick on Sept. 9, 2014, or whenever it is,' explained Tom Watson in an interview with reporters this week at the Toshiba Classic. 'You'll say, 'Watson is going to pick this guy because he told me back 17 months ago how he's going to make his decision.' Well, I'm telling you how I'm going to make that decision right now.'
According to Watson, who also held the captaincy during the 1993 Ryder Cup when the Americans won at The Belfry in England, current form leading up to the Matches will be his top criteria.
'The way I look at it, I want somebody on the upswing when they're going to the Ryder Cup. They're playing well, they've got some momentum,' he noted. 'Are they on the upswing or downswing? That's how I assess who I'm going to be playing, putting in there.'
Since Watson last led the team, the number of selections allotted to the captain in rounding out the 12-man squad has expanded from two to four, with Hunter Mahan notably left off last year's U.S. team by captain Davis Love III despite two early-season wins after he struggled for much of the summer. With the next Ryder Cup on foreign soil, Watson confirmed the need for players to have momentum on their side coming down the stretch next season.
'If I have some players that are playing on the upswing, showing that they can play in the heat of competition and bad conditions, which we're going to have over there, those are the qualities I'm looking for in players.' he added.
An eight-time major winner who played on four Ryder Cup teams, Watson also noted the role that experience will play in his selection process – even explaining how it factored into his two picks 20 years ago.
'The best of all worlds is having great experience, a lot of time in playing the Ryder Cups, and playing well at that particular time. That's the perfect pick,' he explained. 'In 1993 I had two picks, and the players from 11th to about 17th to 20, they were all playing cruddy ... so I went with experience. I picked Lanny Wadkins and Ray Floyd.'