In somewhat of a surprise move, the PGA of America is bringing back Tom Watson as Ryder Cup captain to try to turn around its flagging fortunes.
Watson, speaking at a news conference at the Empire State Building Thursday, said his first order of business is to make sure that Tiger Woods, whom Watson has publicly criticized for his behavior, is part of his team for the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in Scotland.
The USA team has lost seven of the last nine Ryder Cups, including this year's collapse at Medinah where the victorious European team rallied from a 10-6 deficit on Sunday to win by a point.
Watson was the last U.S. captain to lead his team to victory on foreign soil, winning the 1993 Ryder Cup at The Belfry in England. He made it clear he wants Woods.
"He's the best player maybe in the history of the game. He brings a stature to the team that is unlike any other player on the team," the 63-year-old Watson said. "And if he's not on the team for any unforeseen reason, and I'm sure he will be, you can bet that he's going to be No. 1 on my pick list."
The eight-time major winner previously said Woods needed to clean up his act and show more respect for the game when news broke of his multiple extramarital affairs in 2010.
Two years later, Watson said their once-tense relationship is fine. "Whatever has been said before is water under the bridge, no issues," Watson said.
Woods didn't play well at Medinah, going 0-3-1. He supported Watson's selection in a statement Thursday.
"I think he's a really good choice. Tom knows what it takes to win, and that's our ultimate goal," Woods said.
Watson will be 65 when the 2014 Ryder Cup tees off at Gleneagles, making him the oldest captain for either side in the history of the event. After the last U.S. loss, David Toms and Larry Nelson were considered as contenders for the captaincy.
Watson is revered in Scotland for his five British Open wins, his memorable duels with Jack Nicklaus and classy sense of sportsmanship. At age 59, he nearly won a sixth Claret Jug at the 2009 British Open, missing an 8-foot par putt on the final hole to fall into a playoff with Stewart Cink, where he lost.
"I was waiting for about 20 years to get the call," said Watson, who has not been back to the Ryder Cup since his win in 1993. "I loved it the first time. I'm a great fan of the Ryder Cup. It's a great honor to be able to do it again."
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