Make no mistake about it: the PGA of America's choice to name Tom Watson as the U.S. Ryder Cup captain for the 2014 matches is an independent act of aggression.
The American's are sick and tired of losing the Ryder Cup and they're not gonna take it anymore. Choosing Watson as team captain means a man who has never lost a Ryder Cup match as a player or captain will once again lead the U.S. to the promised land. At least, that's the plan on paper.
Watson's Ryder Cup record as a player speaks for itself: three wins, no losses, one tie. His individual match record is 10 - 4 - 1. In 1993, he captained the U.S. to a thrilling victory over Team Europe at The Belfry in England. The man oozes victory, both as a player and as a leader. He's won four of his five British Open titles in Scotland, the home of the next Ryder Cup matches to be held at Gleneagles.
Naming Tom Watson the U.S. captain was a smart move. But was it the correct move?
If history has taught us anything, Ryder Cups are decided more on cohesion and less on pure dominating talent. In a sport that rests on its laurels as an individual affair, victory at the Ryder Cup comes to whichever team holds together the longest. Look no further than this year's European team at Medinah, who matched the biggest comeback in Cup history on a Sunday when everyone "knew" the Americans would prevail. That is, everyone except Europe.
Tom Watson is everything that 2012 U.S. captain Davis Love III was not: stoic, aggressive, calculated and brutally honest. This may prove to be an issue for a team recently comprised of players with high egos, flashy playing styles and (dear I say) stubborn demeanor. Watson won't stand for any of it.
Just ask Tiger Woods.
Watson has been extremely critical of Woods over the years, dating back to 2010 when Woods was in the midst of his public scandal. Watson made no qualms about how he felt Woods should address the situation, urging him to issue a public apology (which Woods did later that year). Watson went on to suggest that Woods needed to "clean up his act" as he felt the former World No. 1 was disrespectful to 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 in February 2010. "You can grant that of a young person that has not been out here for a while. But I think he needs to clean up his act and show the respect for the game that other people before him have shown."
Clearly, how Watson and Woods work together (assuming Woods qualifies for the team by 2014) will be a major topic for the next few months.
Woods has been the goat of the Ryder Cup for the last few years. In the 29 matches he has played, Woods has managed only 14 points for the Americans. He personally took responsibility for the U.S. loss at Medinah, where he managed but a half-point in three days of competition. Should Woods make the team in 2014, Watson will likely make addressing Tiger's woes a priority.
Was Tom Watson the correct choice? Chances are his "no-B.S." attitude will come as a surprise to the young U.S. team, but it is time for a change in how the Americans are coached. If the U.S. has any hope of matching Europe's passion and discipline, they will need a leader who personifies those qualities.
In that respect, Watson will not disappoint.