December 11, 2012

Reaction: Debating the 2014 United States Ryder Cup captain

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Davis Love III led the U.S. team out to a four-point lead before Sunday's final round. He admits he still second guesses some of his decisions.  

By Stephen Hennessey

The European cheers from the Matches at Medinah will reverberate in the ears of American golf fans for a long time. Which is why ever since Martin Kaymer holed the clinching putt to cap a memorable European comeback in September, there's been debate over who should captain the next U.S. squad.

The speculation ramped up Tuesday morning when news broke this morning that the PGA of America will announce the next Ryder Cup captain on Thursday at 8:30 a.m. on the "Today" show.

And that speculation actually started this weekend, when Tom Watson told press at the Australian Open that he'd be honored to be captain again. The U.S. has won just twice since the last time Watson was captain, in 1993.

PGA President Ted Bishop said Tuesday afternoon that the PGA has done something different with the captaincy this time around. Does that mean bringing back a 60-something major champion? Maybe Watson, or 65-year-old Larry Nelson, are bigger possibilities than we originally anticipated.

So who will it be?

Counting up more than 300 votes on, Tom Watson was the pick, earning 32 percent of the vote. 2011 and 2013 Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples came next at 24 percent; three-time major winner Larry Nelson third at 19 percent; and David Toms fourth at 12percent. (Note: 2008 captain Paul Azinger and 2012's frontman Davis Love III were not included as an option.)

Related: Sirak: Watson deserves a nod's Jason Sobel reported that Toms had not spoken with PGA officials ahead of the planned announcement from New York. Is it possible Toms still gets it? Of course. But the 2001 PGA champion is only 45 years old, and actually still ranked 41st in the world, so it's assumed his time will come at some point.

There weren't too many commenters favoring a Toms captaincy, although he's agreed to be one of the favorites:

On our partner site,, "Mark from the UK" cautioned against Toms: "Personally, I don't think he has sufficient RC pedigree to justify being captain at only 45, and I don't think he has the correct personality for it either."

It seems that if Watson — age 63 now and a favorite on both sides of the pond — does get it, all golf fans would be happy.

Chuck from Charlottesville, Va., on "Tom Watson's captaincy would be a powerful antidote to any American player who, too young or uninformed to understand Ryder Cup history, finds himself intimidated by the performance of more recent European teams. Since Watson announced his willingness to serve, it'd be almost foolhardy to pass up the opportunity, in my opinion. The fact that Watson never won a PGA Championship shouldn't matter, but probably does to PGA leadership, who aren't known for their quality decision making. Still, I'm an optimist."

One more Watson vs. Toms nugget: The 63-year-old, eight-time major champion owns a 10-4-1 record as a competitor in the Ryder Cup. Toms, who's played in three Cups, has a 4-6-2 mark.

The last head honcho of a winning U.S. squad, Azinger, seems to be a popular choice to take the reigns again.

Slackattack on "I wouldn't be against Azinger getting it again.  I also like the thought of Watson getting the nod.......he is so good on links courses which would help neutralize some of the home field advantage for the Euros."

There is an overriding, strong sympathy felt for Nelson, who many feel was passed up by the PGA on too many occasions. He did win the PGA Championship twice.

Here's Christopher Thompson on our Golf World Facebook page: "How about Larry Nelson? He should have never been passed over. Probably part of the reason USA struggles. Golf gods know these things!"

So it's the golf Gods who've wished the European side to continually get the better of the U.S.? Hmm..

Golf World/'s John Strege echoed a similar sentiment on Twitter, with a cast of doubt: "Here's hoping PGA rights a wrong, makes Larry Nelson the Ryder Cup captain. Three majors, three Ryder Cups (9-3-1 record). #NotBettingOnIt"

One more pro-Nelson sentiment from J.S. on Geoff Shackelford's blog: "There is one right answer here: Larry Nelson. The man deserves the honor and had been passed over for far too long. It's time for the PGA to step up and do the right thing. Is there one person who hasn't been a Capt already that has the record to match Nelson?

"If current PGA Tour players ever cared enough to boost the opinion of the golfing public, they should tell the PGA they will not play in the Ryder Cup unless Larry Nelson is their Captain."

Related: Diaz: Four years later, Azinger's legacy still felt

U.S. fans are understandably passionate about the subject after watching the Euros celebrate on U.S. soil at Medinah.

The one thing they all could agree on: Bring in a captain who will be equally passionate about returning from Gleneagles with the Cup in hand.

—Stephen Hennessey

[Follow @shennesseyGD](

Photo: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images