Tom Watson may not be Tiger Woods’ first pick for Ryder Cup captain

David Cannon

Wonder if Tiger Woods will be on the edge of his seat watching the “Today” show Thursday morning, hoping that PGA of America president Ted Bishop introduces someone other than Tom Watson as captain of the 2014 Ryder Cup team? Because we’re guessing that Woods -- most likely a 2014 Cupper, if healthy -- and Watson -- the next team skipper, according to Tim Rosaforte -- are not exactly best buds, if past admonishments from Tom the Scold to the serial philanderer are any indication.

Watson minced no words in lecturing Woods about what he expected from the fallen golfer upon his return from his 2009 car accident and subsequent sex scandal.

“It’s something he needs to get control of and get a handle of and he needs to make some amends and show some humility to the public when he comes back,” the purse-lipped eight-time major champion told a TV crew back in 2010. “His swearing and his club-throwing, that should end. That’s not part of what we want to project as far as the professional golf tour is concerned.”

And who can forget this blast from the past from Tiger’s BFF?

“I think he needs to clean up his act...and show respect for the game that the people before him have shown,” Watson told reporters prior to the 2010 Dubai Desert Classic.

Of course, it was Woods’ own fault that every gasbag on the planet had permission to tee off on him. But Watson seemed to go out of his way to tsk-tsk Woods for his behavior -- on and off the course.

"I'll let the cat out of the bag," said Watson. "Tiger has to take ownership of what he’s done. He must get his personal life in order....And when he comes back he has to show some humility to the public.

"I would come out,” Watson continued, “and I would do an interview with somebody and say, `You know what? I screwed up. And I admit it. I am going to try to change. I am trying to change. I want my wife and family back.’"

Watson’s moralizing took a turn for the absurd when he claimed that Woods had less “stature” than the greats of the game.

“I feel that he has not carried the same stature that other great players that have come along like Jack [Nicklaus], Arnold [Palmer], Byron Nelson, the Hogans, in the sense that there was language and club-throwing on the golf course,” said Watson. “He needs to clean up his act and show the respect for the game that other people before him have shown.”

Later that year, Woods made a gesture that indicated that, perhaps, he did indeed respect the game, despite Watson’s constant berating. As sunlight faded at the end of the second round of the 2010 British Open, Woods signaled for Watson to play up to the 18th green so he could take a bow before missing the cut. And they were both smiling in a group photo of past Open Championship winners prior to the start of the 2010 event.

Perhaps those fleeting moments of grace between the two adversaries will help them find common ground when they come together at Gleneagles in 2014.


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