Tom Watson: 2014 Ryder Cup Captain

As you surely know by now, 63-year-old Tom Watson, the 1993 Ryder Cup captain and winner of eight majors, was named as 2014 Ryder Cup captain.

So the golf coach at MIT tweeted:

I’d like to know why Tom Watson’s age is somehow an issue as some writers have stated.

And, having seen an earlier tweet from young woman that was dismissive and wondered why we had to have an “old man,” I responded to him:

Because their ageism trumps Watson’s 63 years of wisdom. 

It was fresh in my mind because on Monday, before I knew that any of this was going to happen, I wrote, “Don’t Think of Them as Old,” about Kenny Perry’s and Peter Senior’s wins by the over-50 crowd against the “kids.” Here’s how it ended:

So while Perry and Senior are both on the Champions Tour, they’re still good enough to play with the “kids.”

And I promise you that as they were coming down the home stretch on Sunday, they were not thinking of themselves as old. They were thinking about getting the ball in the fairway, on the green and in the hole.

And they did a pretty good job of that for two old guys…Doh! Old guys!

And that’s how ubiquitous the “old guy” conversation is and how quickly it just rolls off the tongue.

But we understate the possibility of another human being when it does.

Watson addressed the issue in his press conference on Thursday, but the word apparently hadn’t traveled fast enough:

The idea of being captain for a team of youngsters will be questioned:  Why is Watson, being the old guy, being the captain.  I deflect that very simply by saying:  We play the same game.  I play against these kids at the Masters.  I play against them at the British Open, The Open Championship, the Greenbrier Classic.  We play the same game, and they understand that.  I understand that.

And then another thread developed out there in the Twittersphere. Randall Mel, tweeting at the Golf Channel:

Lanny Wadkins on Watson as capt: “Something needed to be shook up. Today’s players could use a Watson kick-in-the-butt type attitude.”

The sting of this year’s loss is more like a smoldering burn for some. The fact that the U.S team let a 10 – 6 lead get away from them has just been too much for some people. The focus has been on the guys who weren’t super sharp, but conveniently forgets that even with that, it took Poulter’s five straight closing birdies and Rose’s 35-foot putt to pull it off.

And so I tweeted to Mel:

Oh, please. As if the players didn’t care? I hope he brings a steadying hand and not boots.

As the day wore on, the dust settled for the most part and the player accolades began to pour in for Watson on Twitter, some even offering that it would be an honor to play for him as captain and that it inspired them to try to make the team.

But probably the best synopsis of “what’s really so” came from the AP’s prolific golf writer, Doug Ferguson in “Watson was an elementary choice for Ryder Cup.

In it, he writes about the political intrigue of choosing Watson over long-waiting Larry Nelson and David Toms. (Over the last few days, there was consternation abroad that the PGA hadn’t even called either of them.) And that the intrigue was an unnecessary product of the PGA of America’s de facto selection criteria. Once that was swept away, Watson as captain was an “elementary choice.”

He also gives us a look at how Tiger has taken the news given that Watson was outspoken in his criticism of Woods’ off-course behavior and on-course antics.

And finally he reveals that this was no last-minute decision, but rather a year in the making…and the part that the late Jim Huber played in it.

It’s a good read and will give those of us in the U.S. comfort that Watson was the best choice this time around.

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