GLENEAGLES Scotland (Reuters) - Captain Tom Watson believes the United States team are often drained by having to play too much competitive golf in the lead-up to a Ryder Cup match.
Europe have a proud recent history, with seven wins from the last nine editions, and Watson says the money-spinning U.S. FedExCup playoff series that is held before the biennial team event serves as an added complication to the American squad.
“I am concerned about how much these players are playing before they reach the Ryder Cup,” the eight-times major winner told a news conference on Tuesday. “I’m very concerned about that.”
Watson said he raised the issue with PGA of America president Ted Bishop and PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem two years ago.
“These players are playing seven out of eight tournaments or eight out of nine tournaments,” added Watson. “They are tired. That’s too much golf.
“If they could rectify that by a change in the date or the way these tournaments are played prior to it, that would be great for the Ryder Cup.”
Earlier on Tuesday, European stalwart Graeme McDowell said a change to a three-year cycle of matches might benefit the American players in order to break up the pattern of competing in either the Ryder Cup or the Presidents Cup every season.
“I’ve spoken to a few of them and they are of the belief that this needs to be every three years so they can play a Ryder Cup and a Presidents Cup and have a year off,” said world number 18 McDowell.
“This event has become such a global spectacle and such a huge emotional week we want them to be as into it as we are.”
Watson, however, did not share McDowell’s view.
“I still like two years,” said the U.S. skipper. “I think that’s just right.”
Watson gave the first clue on his thinking about pairings for Friday morning’s opening fourballs when he sent his 12-strong team out to practice in three groups of four, matching rival captain Paul McGinley’s strategy earlier in the day.
U.S. Masters champion Bubba Watson was grouped with Matt Kuchar, Webb Simpson and rookie Jordan Spieth.
The experienced Jim Furyk accompanied rookie Patrick Reed, former U.S. Masters winner Zach Johnson and Hunter Mahan while five-times major champion Phil Mickelson partnered rookie Jimmy Walker, Rickie Fowler and Keegan Bradley.
“The players are out there feeling the golf course, a few of them for the first time,” said the visiting captain.
“I told everybody, don’t worry about your golf swing too much today. It’s early. Just kind of get a feel for the golf course.
“You’ll see a lot of chipping and putting and that’s what I would be doing if I was a pro in the Ryder Cup, the same thing.”
Editing by Alan Baldwin