July 02, 2014
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
- Tom Watson will captain the U.S. Ryder Cup team for the second time this fall. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. -- Tom Watson's first trip to The Greenbrier was in 1979 when he was a member of the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
"I had to withdraw because of the birth of my first born, Meg, and I remember the three days we spent here left me a great impression," Watson said. "I've come back here every year since ... It's a special place to be."
Watson, who is now the pro emeritus at the resort, has business here this week, though, as well as pleasure. The 64-year-old is playing in The Greenbrier Classic, as well as scouting potential members of his Ryder Cup team for the matches in September at Gleneagles.
Watson has met with the media twice already this week. The first visit was Tuesday when he received a special invitation to play in The Open Championship next year at St. Andrews to commemorate his 40th start in the major he has won five times.
On Wednesday, the Ryder Cup was the focus -- although he did reflect on bettering his age by two shots at the Toshiba Classic earlier this year. Here are some of his observations:
-- On playing with FedExCup leader Jimmy Walker on Tuesday: "I'm just having to yell to him to talk to him how far ahead of me he is with the driver."
-- On Tiger Woods: "He'll be playing at The Open Championship. Hope to get together with him there and tell him my feelings about him direct. As I've said in front of the press, if he's playing well and he's healthy, he's on the team. Right now he's way down the list as far as points, but who wouldn't pick Tiger Woods to be on your Ryder Cup team?"
-- On whether the Americans have an advantage on the Centenary Course at Gleneagles since it was designed by Jack Nicklaus: "Actually, I think the Europeans have an advantage on this golf course. It's hosted the Johnnie Walker Championship and other championships before. Some of these players, the European players have played that golf course in competition, played it four, five six times, maybe 12 times. I don't think anybody on our team right here has played that course once. That is an advantage."
-- On shooting 62 earlier this year: "My caddie, Neil Oxman, is a great baseball fan, and I am, too. ... He's a Phillies fan. I'm a Royals fan. ... I remember coming off the seventh green, and I made a 12-footer that broke about this much, downhill, left to right putt, center cut. And if I parred the last two holes then I knew I'd shoot my age. I was walking off the green and looked at Neil, and he said, 'Don't say anything.' It's just like a pitcher with a no-no going. You go to the end of the bench and you don't say anything."
Tom Watson comments before The Greenbrier