Watson hopes for early boost

2014-09-25 21:23
Tom Watson (AFP)

Gleneagles - US captain Tom Watson is counting on a pair of rookies and a showdown matchup to give the Americans an early boost over Europe in Friday's Ryder Cup fourball matches.

Watson sends newcomers Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed against host-nation hero Stephen Gallacher and 2012 Europe Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter in a crucial opening-session match at Gleneagles.

And while the feature matchup will send world number one Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia against Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, it could be the young guns whose fire ignites the US squad's hopes for an early run.

"I told them, 'I'm going to throw you in the ocean without a life preserver. You're on your own. You get out there and you get it done,'" Watson said.

"They would give you a boost (by winning). But these players are not dumb. They know Ian has that reputation of being a great Ryder Cup player. If they beat him, it's more power to them."

Watson, an eight-time major winner who captained the most recent US win in Europe in 1993, told a story from fellow US legend Byron Nelson about his 1937 Ryder Cup debut in England and how headlines proclaimed rookie Nelson and Ed Dudley as "Lambs Are Thrown to the Wolves" against Henry Cotton and Alf Padgham.

"And of course Byron beat the stars and the headline the next day was 'The Lambs Eat the Wolves,'" Watson said. "I remember that story very succinctly."

And Spieth won a Junior Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in 2010.

"He's a very strong-willed young man and I'm very impressed by his attitude," Watson said. "You look at Patrick Reed. When he gets it going, he thinks he can beat the world, and I like that attitude in a player."

Watson dismissed the idea the rookies might be intimidated by Poulter, who birdied the last five holes for a comeback fourball win that ignited Europe's victorious rally.

"I don't think so. They have a job to do, and I tell you, these kids are tough kids, both of them." Watson said.

"To give the rookies a chance to play and to see what they have got, that's what I did. I really wanted to see what they have got.

"The fortunes that go with The Ryder Cup, you look at these matches right here, and you can see some scenarios that would really be something very special."

The biggest win would be five-time major winner Mickelson and 2011 PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley, who went 3-0 in 2012 at Medinah, toppling third-ranked Spaniard Garcia and McIlroy, who won back-to-back majors at the British Open and PGA Championship.

"If Phil and Keegan win that match right there, just think of the boost it will give our team," Watson said.

"But conversely, I think if Sergio and Rory beat Phil and Keegan, what a boost it will give their team. That's what happens. There's an ebb and flow to this thing."

After two years of planning, the oldest captain in Ryder Cup history was eager for the showdown to begin.

"I'm 65 years old. I don't have a lot of years left," Watson said. "This is a very special moment in my life to be able to be a Ryder Cup captain.

"I hope it comes out the right way. But if it doesn't, it has been one hell of a ride."

Read more on:    ryder cup  |  tom watson  |  golf

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