Ryder Cup: Tom Watson ready to unveil wild cards
Last Updated: 03/09/14 12:51am
All eyes will be on Tom Watson later today when the American skipper names his three wild cards for this month’s Ryder Cup match at Gleneagles.
Watson has never tasted defeat in a Ryder Cup as either a player or skipper, having been involved five times between 1977 and 1993.
And his appointment as captain for the match in Perthshire was probably because of America’s terrible recent record in the three-day contest.
Since Watson captained the United States to victory in 1993 at The Belfry, the Americans have lost seven of the nine encounters and the eight-time Major winner’s Ryder Cup experience is desperately needed.
With nine of the US team already known – from the qualifying table – the remaining trio will be announced live on Sky Sports News just after midnight on Tuesday.
Unfortunately for the 64-year-old leader, his choice has been hampered by a number of withdrawals.
Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker and Dustin Johnson have already indicated they are unable to tee-up in Scotland, while Jason Dufner’s participation remains seriously in doubt.
This leaves Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker and Hunter Mahan the favourites to fight for the three available spots, although Chris Kirk and Bill Haas must not be ruled out.
Bradley, Simpson and Snedeker all made their debuts two years ago when the US were seemingly heading towards a crushing victory – only to lose nine out of 12 singles on the final day and also the match.
Mahan, meanwhile, missed that match but played in both 2008 and 2010, tasting victory in Kentucky six years ago only to lose the following encounter at Celtic Manor.
Mahan has an excellent matchplay record, having won the WGC Accenture Matchplay Championship in Arizona in 2012 and – as defending champion 12 months later – reaching the final.
Although the 32-year-old endured five months without a top-20 finish earlier this year, he has recently found some decent form with a tie-for-7th in the final major of the season at Valhalla, followed by victory in the opening event of the FedEx Cup Play-Offs two weeks ago.
He also has better than 50% records in both the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup – having represented the US four times in the latter.
Bradley, meanwhile, is without a victory in over two years but enjoyed a 75% success rate at the 2012 match in Illinois.
Snedeker, the world No 36, last won 13 months ago and is another out-of-form former world top-10 American.
As for Simpson, he looks in better shape, with four top-10s in his last 10 starts and has a better matchplay record than Snedeker.
Watson may also be considering Kirk who currently leads the Fed-Ex Cup play-off standings thanks to his victory in Boston on Monday – his second PGA Tour title during the past 11 months.
The world No 25, who recently turned 29, could sneak into Watson’s dozen at the 11th hour, as could another possible Ryder rookie – the consistent Haas.
Haas is a two-time Presidents Cup player who has missed just a single cut in the past 12 months.
All will be revealed in a few hours.