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Ryder Cup: Tom Watson wants end to captain's picks

By Ben Monro-Davies
updated 12:29 PM EDT, Tue September 24, 2013
Just how important are captains in the Ryder Cup? Just how important are captains in the Ryder Cup?
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson floats the idea of doing away with captain's picks
  • Watson and European captain Paul McGinley addressed the media a year before Gleneagles
  • Europe has won two straight and five of the last six Ryder Cups
  • But Watson was captain the last time the U.S. won on foreign soil in 1993

(CNN) -- It may be a year away, but the mind games have already begun in the Ryder Cup.

In a news conference at Gleneagles in Scotland -- next fall's venue for the biennial golf clash -- U.S. captain Tom Watson couldn't resist putting his European counterpart, Paul McGinley, on the spot.

In discussing how Ryder Cup teams should be selected, Watson suggested both sides should lose the right to pick some of the squad -- at the moment the majority qualify through prize money on their respective tours but the captain is allowed to choose a handful of golfers.

Read: A tale of two captains

"In my first three Ryder Cups everyone had to qualify," said Watson, a winner of eight majors. "Maybe that's the way it should go back to. I reduced my picks this year from four to three. I thought about two.

"Maybe we should go back to no picks. What do you think?" Watson asked McGinley in front of dozens of journalists.

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It was a mischievous question, since most believe such a system would favor the Americans because many of the European stars now ply their trade on the U.S. PGA Tour.

McGinley saw it coming.

"That would be tricky for us with so many of our players playing on the U.S. tour," he said. "Question deferred."

The exchange, carried out with big smiles, was in keeping with the way both captains say they want the sport's most prestigious team competition to be played.

"We know this is a partisan event, we are on away turf, and the European team is the favorite, but one thing Paul and I agreed on was the manner in which this tournament is played is paramount, " Watson said. "There's going to be an edge there, but the way we handle it is important .

"Bottom line, it requires respect. When you lose you respect the people who win, when you win you respect the people who lose."

One thing, though, neither captain wants is the tag of favorite.

Unfortunately for McGinley, he won't win that battle. The Europeans have won two straight and five of the last six Ryder Cups, including last year's 'Miracle in Medinah.'

Read: Another win for Europe

The U.S. led 10-6 heading into the final day, only to lose 14.5 to 13.5.

"The bookies will say we are favorites," McGinley said. "I've no reason to argue with the bookies.

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"But the margin is so small. We are going to play incredibly well. The American team under Tom Watson is going to be a formidable package. It's a real heavyweight contest."

Watson eased the pressure on the road team.

"We have lost seven out of the last nine Ryder Cups," Watson said. "We have an away game. In traditional sport the home team has an advantage."

Watson's involvement as captain might, however, be a factor. He was a Ryder Cup stalwart and is 1-0 as captain, leading the U.S. to victory at the Belfry in England in 1993 -- the last time the U.S. won on foreign soil.

Watson also prospered in Britain, capturing five British Opens.

"I am very grateful for the opportunity to be captain in Scotland, a place that has been very special to me during my career," said Watson. "It's hard to believe that it was nearly 20 years ago that I enjoyed one of the most thrilling experiences in my career in being captain in 1993."

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