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Older But Wiser?

For years, the accepted thinking, at least on the U.S. side, was that the Ryder Cup captain needed to be veteran but young enough (preferably mid-40s) to still be “in touch” with the players he led into battle against Europe. Then last year, Davis Love III (48 at the time) drew criticism for not refusing the request from the red-hot duo of Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley when that pair asked to be rested for Saturday afternoon’s foursomes matches at Medinah. Those same critics said an older, more distanced, captain wouldn’t have hesitated to order Mickelson and Bradley right back out into the fray, their expressed weariness be damned. Subsequently, the PGA of America chose Tom Watson, who will turn 65 next year, to captain the U.S. team at Gleneagles in Scotland in 2014. Last week, Watson named close friend Andy North as his first assistant. North will be 64 at Gleneagles. “Tom knows,” North said, “that if he asks me a question I will be brutally honest.” And the American players are now on notice that if they’re playing well that week, they had better be prepared to play all five sessions if Watson pencils in their names. Watson made the North announcement last week at the Greenbrier Classic, where he played, among other things, as a tuneup for the Open Championship later this month at Muirfield. “Andy knows what it takes to close the deal and that’s what we need on the Ryder Cup team,” said Watson. “We (also) need players who can close the deal. I’m certainly happy to have Andy on my side and in my ear helping me make the decisions that will bring this Cup back home from Europe this time. It’s been way too long.” The last time the U.S. won a Ryder Cup in Europe was 1993 when, by the way, the player that clinched the winning singles point was a twentysomething American rookie named Davis Love III. The winning captain, also by the way, was Tom Watson.


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