Golfing great Tom Watson – at 63 old enough to be Rory McIlroy’s grandfather - was today named as the oldest Ryder Cup captain in history.
In the boldest of moves possible, the PGA of America confirmed Watson had been given back the job he did at The Belfry in 1993 – the last time Europe lost at home – and entrusted with the task of ending a run of five American defeats in the last six matches.
By the time he leads the United States out at Gleneagles in September 2014, the five-time Open champion – so close to winning the Claret Jug again just three years ago – will be 65.
That will make him eight years older than America’s previous record-holder Sam Snead and three years older than JH Taylor was when he led Britain, as it was then, back in 1933.
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Watson, who last weekend made the cut at the Australian Open and then was the only player to break 70 on the final day, looks certain to be up against either Darren Clarke or Paul McGinley, 44 and 45 respectively. That decision is expected next month.
Four years ago Europe lost under 51-year-old Nick Faldo and it was decided after that to go for younger men who were more in touch with the current stars.
Colin Montgomerie did it in Wales at 47 in 2010 and Jose Maria Olazabal this year at 46. Seve Ballesteros was only 40 at Valderrama in 1997.
The policy has worked then for Europe, but the PGA of America, which has not had anybody older than 50 in charge since Snead in 1969, has decided it is time for a change of approach.
President Ted Bishop said ahead of the announcement: “I think we’ve done something a little bit different.
“The role of the PGA of America in naming a Ryder Cup captain should not be to name somebody to reward them for their previous playing experiences.
“We need to look for captains that are going to put our team in the best position to win it.
“We’re tired of losing. And whether it’s him (Watson) or it’s somebody else, that’s what our mission is.”
The victory under Watson 19 years ago was the only time Europe has lost on home soil since 1981.
Watson appeared on NBC television before a teleconference at the Empire State Building in New York.
“I was waiting 20 years to get the call again,” he said.
“It’s a great honour to do it again and this time it is going to be 14 and a half points.
“I loved it the first time. I’ve been a great fan of the Ryder Cup – I get the same gut feeling just watching it at home on TV.”
Woods said in a statement: ``I'd like to congratulate Tom Watson on his selection as Ryder Cup captain.
“I think he’s a really good choice. Tom knows what it takes to win and that’s our ultimate goal.
“I hope I have the privilege of joining him on the 2014 United States team.”