Watson ready to make tough Ryder Cup calls

Mon Jul 21, 2014 7:46am EDT
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By Tony Jimenez

HOYLAKE England (Reuters) - Tom Watson looked the picture of charm and grace as he outplayed scores of golfers half his age at last week's British Open but, make no mistake, he did not win eight majors without having a steely edge.

The 64-year-old United States Ryder Cup captain has more than half an eye on the match against holders Europe in Scotland in September and he made two verbal declarations at Hoylake that left no doubt as to how seriously he is taking the biennial team event.

Watson left open the possibility that some of his 12 players may not be called upon until the last-day singles and he rejected the notion that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are guaranteed places in his side.

Asked by Reuters in an interview if he planned to rotate his team on the opening two days in order to make sure everyone gets a taste of the action ahead of the singles, he shrugged his shoulders.

"Who knows?," he said. "I told my players when I was captain for the first time in 1993 and I'll them the same now, I'll do whatever I can to win this thing."

Five-times Open champion Watson ended his Hoylake campaign in rousing fashion on Sunday when a four-under 68 gave him a tie for 51st place.

Among the players lower than the veteran American on the final leaderboard were former world number ones Woods and Luke Donald, seventh-ranked Matt Kuchar, number eight Jason Day and last month's U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer.

Watson will continue to compete at this week's Senior British Open at Royal Porthcawl in Wales before beginning the countdown to the Ryder Cup.   Continued...

Tom Watson of the U.S. watches his tee shot on the fourth hole during the second round of the British Open Championship at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, northern England July 18, 2014.   REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton