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Watson banks on five-time Ryder Cup loser Tiger Woods

With a year to go until the next Ryder Cup, the US Captain has backed the world number one.

Tom Watson will put the fate of the US Ryder Cup team in Tiger Woods' hands in 2014.
Tom Watson will put the fate of the US Ryder Cup team in Tiger Woods' hands in 2014.
Image: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire/Press Association Images

TIGER WOODS HAS been a member of just one victorious USA Ryder Cup side but 2014 Captain Tom Watson will look to the 14-time Major winner as an on-course leader later next year at Gleneagles.

Watson, 64, has been in Scotland for the past two days joining rival European captain, Paul McGinley, in a number of ‘Year to Go’ celebrations for next year’s Scottish showdown.

While McGinley is no stranger to Gleneagles and the PGA Centenary course, Watson’s appearance is just his second following a visit to this year’s British Open.

Watson first led the US to a two point victory at the Belfry in 1993 and will stake his bid to end a recent European dominance on Woods.

However Woods, who first made his Ryder Cup debut in 1997 and has played in all but one Ryder Cup since, has only savoured success once and that was at Brookline in 1999 under Ben Crenshaw’s leadership.

“Tiger has a sense about him and in talking to Davis (Love III) he was very much a leader at Medinah,” said Watson.

“We need him to be a leader. There’s not a question about that.

“I don’t care who you are, if you don’t look up to Tiger Woods, what he’s accomplished in his career and say, I want to play like Tiger Woods, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

“He’s had the most remarkable career probably of almost any professional golfer in the history of your game.

“So to have him on your team is special. When I played in The Ryder Cup, I stood on the tee several times, “And now on the tee, I heard several times, Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus.” You don’t think that was kind of a (taking deep exhale) moment; God, I’ve got Jack Nicklaus on my six.”

McGinley smiled in responding to Watson’s remark: “We’ve got Ian Poulter.”

Qualifying for the 2014 European Ryder Cup side began a month ago while US Team qualifying will get underway on October 10 with the Frys.com Open at San Martin, California.

The event is the first in a new structured 2013/2014 PGA Tour.

Watson is returning to the States and New York where he will look at samples of the USA Team uniform ahead of monitoring the US player performance at this month’s Presidents Cup in Ohio.

In contrast, McGinley will tee-up in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship starting on Thursday in nearby St. Andrews.

And while Europe are already favourites with bookmakers to win the Ryder Cup for an eighth time in the last 10 encounters, McGinley is under no illusion his team face a ‘heavyweight’ struggle to retain the gleaming gold trophy.

“At the risk of repeating myself, I really see this as, again, boxing parlance, as two heavyweights going toe to toe, 15 rounds,” said McGinley.

“The margin between the two teams is so slight and so small, even though we have come out on the right side of winning, I think there’s no doubt about it, we are going to have to play incredibly well to win this Ryder Cup.

“I know we are on home soil, but I know it’s going to be a very formidable package that Tom is going to pose to us, and I know that … that’s what makes it so enthralling. That’s what makes it so exciting.

“It’s a real heavyweight contest, and as we saw in Medinah it came right down to the wire, and I have no reason to think it won’t come right down to the wire again here in Gleneagles.”

(C) AFP, 2013

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