Johnson's 'heart' a winning Cup quality, says Watson

Wed Jan 22, 2014 1:05pm EST
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

(Reuters) - Zach Johnson's stunning form since September has caught the eye of United States Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson who has identified his "big heart" as the most prized attribute for players in the biennial team competition.

American world number six Johnson, who has represented his country three times against Europe at the Ryder Cup, has triumphed three times in his last eight starts while only once finishing outside the top 16.

"I've been actively watching the players and how they're playing ... I've been impressed by a number of them, especially Zach Johnson," eight-times major champion Watson, 64, wrote in his captain's blog on the Ryder Cup website (

"I've said it many times - heart is the No. 1 quality I'm looking for in these players. Zach's the kind of player who has a big heart.

"You can't underestimate the value of a big heart from a standpoint of winning and how that plays in a Ryder Cup."

Long renowned for his brilliant short game and never-say-die attitude, Johnson has won the PGA Tour's BMW Championship and Hyundai Tournament of Champions, plus the unofficial Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, over the past five months.

Though U.S. players still have a little more than six months to earn the nine automatic selections in the 12-man team to take on Europe from September 26-28 at Gleneagles in Scotland, Watson likes the way things are shaping up.

"It's too early to look at the standings and think, 'This is the team that will be at Gleneagles,' but there certainly are trends," said Watson, who in September will become the oldest ever captain at a Ryder Cup at the age of 65.   Continued...

Zach Johnson of the U.S. waves to the gallery after finishing the third hole during the final round of the Sony Open golf tournament at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, Hawaii, January 12, 2014. REUTERS/Hugh Gentry