Even though the 2014 Ryder Cup is still a year away the event is still managing to make headlines. The most recent kerfuffle was spurred on by United States captain Tom Watson at the Year-to-Go event that recently took place at Gleneagles. You see, Watson – who already reduced his number of captain’s picks from four to three – thinks that there should be no players chosen by the captain. He feels that the players should make the team based solely on their standing in the points race.
“Maybe that’s the way we should go back to,” Watson said. “I reduced my picks from four to three, and was thinking actually two because I wanted the players who were playing to get on the team to have that as a goal. And if they got there, then they’ve earned something very, very special. Maybe we should go back to that.”
I see Watson’s point. I do. But I don’t agree with it. He is essentially saying that the top 12 players in the standings should theoretically be the most deserving of a spot on the team. They played their way to that point and should be rewarded for their efforts. That’s not necessarily the case, however. There are several circumstances that might warrant a captain’s pick being used on someone outside of the top 12 in the standings.
Basing the team solely on the points standings leaves out any rookies that may make their debut next year and take the sport by storm (as Jordan Spieth did this year). They would likely be left off of the team because they would have only a fraction of the time in which to earn qualification points, no matter how well they play next year. In addition, if a top-tier were player were to suffer an injury several months before the event they could miss enough time to drop them out of the top 12 – even if they are back to top form by the time the event rolls around. It wouldn’t necessarily be in the best interest of the team to keep that individual from participating.
I do think that four captain’s picks may be a bit excessive. I like that Watson reduced his number to three – that seems to be the perfect number. And if he has that big of an issue with using his three picks on players outside of the top 12, he can always choose the 10th, 11th and 12th ranked golfers in the standings.