By Alex O’Connor
The 2014 Ryder Cup was one to forget for the United States. The U.S. lost to the Europeans by a score of 16.5-11.5, which is a margin of five more matches won for the Europeans. The man who chose some of these players was Tom Watson. Watson is a legend in the golf industry, having won multiple major championships. However, Watson has only been a Ryder Cup captain once. Coming into the tournament, there was heavy media attention on how much of an underdog the U.S. team was. For example, on September 11th of this year, rydercup.com uploaded a segment giving Europe the overwhelming nod to win.
Once the tournament began, there were several pairing moves made by Watson that were heavily scrutinized. Recently, golfchannel.com reported that Watson changed his mind on the adding of Bill Haas to the roster instead of Webb Simpson. Through the media’s portrayal of the pairing selections and his last-minute roster decision, Watson had an overall unsuccessful tenure as the Ryder Cup coach this year.
The first subject of criticism that was highlighted in the media about Watson’s tenure was his roster placement during the tournament. The main two pairings that were under the most heat were Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed and Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley. On Saturday, Spieth and Reed won their first match, while the latter had lost. Instead of putting Mickelson and Bradley out for their next match, Watson benched them in favor of the two Ryder Cup rookies. Reed and Spieth went on to halve the match. One of NBC Sports lead Golf anchors, Johnny Miller, was not fond of Watson’s original picks, and this decision only added to the negative impression of the U.S. team.
It has been reported that Bill Haas was originally supposed to be the final captain’s pick by Tom Watson. This was based on the word of some U.S. players. However, Webb Simpson sent a text the night before pleading his case to Watson, having already told his players that Haas was the last pick. The bottom line was that their was a clear lack of decisiveness in the situation and false hope among the players. However, the media only knew about Simpson’s text and not of Haas’ “confirmation” at the time. In the case of the media, one crucial fact was left out of this situation and was not properly addressed until yesterday.
This year’s Ryder Cup is one that should soon be forgotten by U.S. fans and players alike. However, this new development will keep a sour taste for a little bit longer. The media presence in this situation was simply not in the right place at the right time. Regardless of the timing, Tom Watson is being painted in a negative light and will ultimately have a difficult time renewing his captain’s seat for future Ryder and President’s Cups.