Tom Watson insists he is not worried about how his US Ryder Cup team is shaping up, despite Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson both being outwith the automatic qualification spots.
The American skipper for this year’s match at Gleneagles insisted after his final round at the Open Championship yesterday that the pair’s struggles to force their way into his side is ‘not a burden at all’.
Mickelson currently lies 12th, three places outside the ninth and last place, with Woods a distant 72nd. Watson, however, remains unmoved.
“Obviously, it’s going to be what it is,” said the 65-year-old. “It’s not gotten to that point yet, though. Ask me on September 1 or September 2, when I make the three picks. If Phil and Tiger don’t make it into the mix there, I’ve got some real thinking to do. Everybody is thinking I’m going to pick them automatically. I can assure you that I’m not going to pick them automatically.
"It would make it tougher for me to pick him if he’s not playing.” - Tom Watson on Tiger
“I said about Tiger that I’ll pick him if he’s playing well and he’s in good health and Phil is the same way. If they’re playing well, how can you not pick those two?”
Pressed specifically on Tiger, Watson added: “It looks like he’s playing without pain but, again, he’s not in the mix. He needed to get in the mix to get some points to get some money and get in the FedExCup. That’s what I was hoping he was doing this week.”
At present, Woods is in serious danger of missing the FedExCup Playoffs. Entering the Open, he was ranked 212th, with just the top 125 players at the end of next month’s Wyndham Championship qualifying for the lucrative season finale.
That has prompted some to suggest that the 14-time major winner may need to find other events to play in – potentially in Europe – if he is to impress Watson.
“That’s up to him,” said Watson when that possibility was put to him. “It’s not a mandatory thing. it would make it tougher for me to pick him if he’s not playing.”
Tom Watson’s team as it stands
The nine players currently in the automatic qualifying positions for Tom Watson’s American Ryder Cup team are: Bubba Watson, Jimmy Walker*, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth*, Jim Furyk, Rickie Fowler, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson.
* denotes rookie.