By Tom Watson 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. - The Greenbrier seemed to be the logical place for me to announce my good friend, Andy North, as a vice captain for the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup Team.
I have close ties to The Greenbrier. Plus, I wanted to make this announcement at a PGA Tour event and here we are this week for The Greenbrier Classic. This is a place where a lot of young guys are just getting started on the PGA Tour. To me it's a wonderful place to watch the passion and the way the young players approach the game out here - the seriousness of it; the newness of it to a lot of them. I remember when this was all new to me. You can see it here at The Greenbrier.
I wanted to make this announcement at a regular PGA Tour event, because the players - or the actors, so to speak - will be coming from the PGA Tour. I'm going to be the stage manager and try to create all the cues for the players to hit and all that, but they have to go out and perform. The bottom line is, can they perform better than the other team? The other team has been performing better than our team. I'm going to try everything in my power - and Andy will as well - to create a situation where our team will perform better than theirs.
My friendship with Andy dates back to 1967. Any time you have a friend, you can talk honestly to that friend about anything. Whatever conversations I have with Andy, I've always known that they're private and they're not going to go anywhere else. I really, truly value Andy's observations.
Already we've been talking about players who have played on the Ryder Cup team before, potential new players who may play on the Ryder Cup team. That process has started. I value Andy's input. He's been out there and he's watched a lot of these players play. As an analyst and announcer at ESPN, he watches the leaders play. He sees how they play under the heat. A Ryder Cup is all about heat - pressure. I want the best pressure players possible. Andy sees that up close and personal. What better person to have as a vice captain than a guy who's been doing this for many, many years?
When I asked Andy to be a vice captain, I was elated. It was an easy choice for me to make. He brings a value to the process because, like I said, he's up close and personal with these players as a walking announcer for ESPN. He knows what players are doing. He knows their mannerisms. As a two-time major champion, he knows what they're feeling too. He sees things we might not see on TV. He talks to their caddies sometimes. All of that is invaluable information in making choices for the team. Nine players will make the team and then there will be three captain's choices. With those choices, there's going to be a lot of input in making the decision on who those players are going to be based on the criteria I've given: heart and guts; who's going to make the 5-footer every time when they have to; can they play in bad conditions and can they play with a lead?
In the next few weeks I'll be playing in the Open Championship, the Senior British Open and I'll also stop to take a look at Gleneagles and the Centenary Course for the first time since being appointed captain. Andy and his wife, Sue, will be joining me at Gleneagles.
We'll get a good look and start talking about logistics. We'll see how the flow goes over there. The logistical flow. How do you get from point A to point B? What are the rooms like? What type of team rooms do we have? Timing will be a lot of it too. The clubhouse is about 300-400 yards from the hotel. Logistics will be the key consideration on this trip - the course won't be much. (Editor's note: The PGA Centenary Course has been undergoing renovations for the 2014 Ryder Cup and was scheduled to re-open on July 5, 2014).
We'll get a look at the course, but I'm not going to tell the players how to play the golf course. That's not my job. They'll figure out how to play the golf course. If they ask me, I'll certainly have an understanding of the golf course.
I'm going to do everything I possibly can as a stage manager to make it so that these guys can perform their best.
Follow 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson on Twitter, @TomWatsonPGA.
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