New York – Eight-time major golf champion Tom Watson was named on Thursday to be captain of the 2014 US Ryder Cup squad by the PGA of America, making him the oldest captain in US history at age 63.
Watson, a five-time British Open champion, was selected in hopes of ending an American slump in the biennial golf showdown. Europeans have won five of the past six Ryder Cup matches, including at Medinah near Chicago last September.
“I've lived for that pressure and lived underneath that pressure all my career,” Watson said.
The prior US Ryder Cup captain age mark belonged to Sam Snead, who was 57 when he guided the Americans in 1969.
Watson will be 65 when the next Ryder Cup is contested in 2014 at Gleneagles in Scotland. Watson won his first major title in Scotland at Carnoustie in 1975 and took four major crowns on Scottish soil.
Watson first served as the US captain in 1993, the last time a US squad won a Ryder Cup on European soil.
“I was waiting for about 20 years to get the call,” Watson said. “I loved it the first time. It's just a great honor to be able to do it again.
“This time we need 14 1/2 points.”
Watson becomes the first repeat US Ryder Cup captain since 1987, when Jack Nicklaus guided the Americans at his Muirfield Village home course but the Americans suffered their first defeat on US soil.
The PGA of America, whose president Ted Bishop announced the choice on the “Today” show telecast by US Ryder Cup broadcaster NBC, had chosen captains who were more recent PGA Tour players in more recent selections.
This time, the governing body selected a man in Watson who has not played full-time on the PGA circuit in 14 years. Watson won 39 PGA titles, the last at the 1998 Colonial, and said he is merely the set-up man for his elite players.
“I hope to set the stage,” Watson said. “I'm the stage manager. I set the stage for them to go out and do what they do.”
In 2009, Watson lost a playoff to Stewart Cink for the British Open title, missing a par putt on the 72nd hole that would have made him the oldest major champion in golf history. – Sapa-AFP