Ryder Cup: Steady captain Tom Watson guides underdog Americans

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Phil Mickelson

Golf’s Super Bowl starts this Friday at Gleneagles in Perthshire, Scotland.

The Americans come off a stinging loss two years ago to Team Europe at Medinah in Chicago when they held a four point lead in The Ryder Cup going into the last day.

It will not be any easier this year for the Red, White and Blue. The last time the Americans won on European soil was 21 years ago. Ten-time Ryder Cup Team veteran Phil Mickelson knows it all too well.

“We’re here without Tiger Woods,” Mickelson said. “We’re without Dustin Johnson. We’re without Jason Dufner. And we’re playing a team that has players like [Rory] McIlroy and Henrik [Stenson], who have played just incredible golf over the years. They’re going to be extremely tough to beat, whoever gets paired against them. Certainly, we are the underdog.”

The first tee on the opening morning of the Ryder Cup is the most entertaining scene in golf. The atmosphere is more like a Saturday watching LSU at Tiger Stadium. There will be singing, chanting, flags waving and fans in team colors, certainly a far cry from observing The Masters or your typical golf tournament.

The atmosphere will have a major impact on the players. “The first hole is always amazing,” Europe’s Sergio Garcia said. “It’s definitely the most impressive first hole we play throughout our careers.” “It gives me goosebumps thinking about it.”

To add to the drama, the Americans and Europeans will pass through a tunnel before their long walk to the first tee with blue flowers for the Europeans on one side of the hillside and red flowers for the Americans.

“A bit like gladiators walking into the arena as you walk up that hill, coming out of the tunnel,” European captain Paul McGinley said. “It should be an electric atmosphere.”

While the Americans on paper are certainly the underdog, there is one key intangible that can bring the Americans to victory. Their Captain is Tom Watson.

Watson, who won the British Open five times, is loved and respected in Scotland. He could not be a better choice by the PGA of America to captain this underdog team. His approach is more humble than most past captains and his way of reaching his team and seeing the big picture is admirable.

Bringing the whole event into perspective, Watson had a pair of U.S. Army veterans and wounded warriors, Noah Galloway and Josh Olson, speak to the 12 Americans.

“It’s sobering. The players, they went up to them and asked them questions,” Watson said. “In this cauldron of pressure, it’s great to have that kind of perspective. It’s not that big a deal. We make it a big deal, but it’s not that big a deal.”

Captain Watson, try telling that to the golfing world.

Thomas Bjorn Jamie Donaldson
Victor Dubuisson Stephen Gallacher
Sergio Garcia Martin Kaymer
Graeme McDowell Rory McIlroy
Ian Poulter Justin Rose
Henrik Stenson Lee Westwood
Keegan Bradley Rickie Fowler
Jim Furyk Zach Johnson
Matt Kuchar Hunter Mahan
Phil Mickelson Patrick Reed
Webb Simpson Jordan Spieth
Jimmy Walker Bubba Watson
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