The Norman Transcript

Sports

December 14, 2012

Tom Watson returns as U.S. team’s Ryder Cup captain

(Continued)

NEW YORK —

Watson went out of his way Thursday to praise Woods as “the best player maybe in the history of the game.”

“My relationship with Tiger is fine,” he said. “Whatever has been said before is water under the bridge. No issues.”

Watson breaks the PGA of America’s prototype in a big way. The eight-time major champion will be 65 when the Ryder Cup is played at Gleneagles. Sam Snead was 57 when he was captain in 1969, and the oldest European captain was John Jacobs (56) in 1981.

Watson predicted that some would say: “Why is Watson, being the old guy, being the captain?”

“I deflect that very simply by saying: ‘We play the same game,”’ he said. “I play against these kids at the Masters. I play against them at the British Open.”

Watson does hope to play more PGA Tour events in the next two years to spend more time around his future team. He’ll consider switching back to two captain’s picks from four. Or maybe three.

Watson has not been back to the Ryder Cup since that ‘93 victory at The Belfry. But since then, he had been pining for another chance to serve as captain.

With that familiar gap-tooth grin, Watson recalled his reaction when the PGA of America first contacted him more than a year ago: “Boy, I’ve been waiting for this call for a long time.”

As much as Watson is beloved around the world for his timeless game, epic duels with Nicklaus and graciousness in any outcome, the Scots consider him one of their own. Watson won his first major at Carnoustie in 1975 when he quickly understood how to play links golf. He won five British Open titles, the most of any American, with four of those in Scotland.

He nearly made it six claret jugs three years ago. At age 59, he came within an 8-foot par putt on the last hole from winning at Turnberry. Watson missed the putt, and then lost to Stewart Cink in a playoff.

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