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PGA Tour Confidential: Would Tom Watson make a good U.S. Ryder Cup Captain?

Tom Watson
Mark Nolan / Getty Images
The last time the U.S. won the Ryder Cup in Europe was in 1993 ... and Tom Watson was the captain.

Every Sunday night, the editorial staff of the SI Golf Group conducts an e-mail roundtable. Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.

Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I'm sure he wasn't lobbying for the job and was just answering a reporter's question, but Tom Watson said he'd captain the 2014 Ryder Cup team if asked. Would you ask him to captain this squad? And if not, who would be your choice? I don't have a problem with Watson getting an encore after his winning turn as captain in '93. What do you say?

Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: Sorry, Tom's time has passed. I'm going with Fred Couples. He has a great track record in the Presidents Cup, but this is an entirely different animal. I want to see how Fred handles the heat.

Van Sickle: I like that call, Mark. Why not Fred? I think he's earned it. And if not Fred, I'd still like to see Paul Azinger get a return engagement. His change to four captain's picks was crucial for the U.S.

Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Fred made his Ryder Cup bed when he took the Presidents Cup captaincy again.

David Dusek, deputy editor, It's a pity that once a person or course aligns with one alphabet soup organization, the others seem to exclude that person or course from future consideration.

Van Sickle: Exactly. What's the difference?

Morfit: I agree that Couples would be interesting to watch in that role. If nothing else, it would highlight the contrast between the Presidents Cup and the Ryder Cup.

Godich: Other than winning on foreign soil, what does Zinger have left to prove? If he doesn't win, won't he tarnish what he did in 2008?

Van Sickle: Nah. The blame almost always falls on the players, as it usually should.

Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: I still think the captain counts for a lot.

Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: It would be very odd, and considering the PGA of America's slavish selection formula for captains, not likely to happen. Although a Watson captaincy would be a fun trip down memory lane, I'm not sure Watson has the patience to devote two years of his life to the job. Plus, we saw during the Hal Sutton captaincy what can happen when an old-timer is put in a position of authority.

Van Sickle: Sure, odds are against ol' Tom. But who would you name as captain?

Herre: Fred is less elegant than Davis Love in many ways, but of the same mold and era. He would be an excellent choice. But again, being captain is a big commitment, and Fred has commitment issues.

Charlie Hanger, executive editor, I'm biased as a KC guy, so hell yes. I couldn't believe it when Watson said he hadn't even been to a Ryder Cup since '93. He's one of the game's living legends and universally respected. Let's get him back in the Ryder Cup mix.

Van Sickle: Watson would go over well as a captain in Scotland, too, where's he's still revered.

Hanger: In Scotland, Watson might be match-worthy!

Bamberger: I talked to Ted Bishop, the new PGA president, the other day about the new captain. He noted that the U.S. hasn't won a road game since 1993, when Watson was running the show! He also said it was time to think outside the box (that was in response to my nomination of Woods for next year). Could it be Watson? I'd be shocked. I truly think he'd struggle to relate to today's young players. But it would be so interesting if he got it, and he might come home with some hardware, and that's the goal, right?

Morfit: I actually think the PGA's goal is not necessarily to win. The fact that Zinger didn't captain in 2010 proves it.

Bamberger: Davis told me that was the first thing they told him to do: win the thing.

Herre: Disagree, Cam. The PGA wants to win. Problem is the PGA is risk-averse in many ways. That shows in their hidebound procession of Ryder Cup captains. I think Zinger's game-changing proposals/demands probably shook them up, maybe to the point where they are comfortable with the status quo for a while.

Van Sickle: Well, none of that explains Corey Pavin.

Bamberger: All these things fall under the category of, "Seemed like a good idea at the time."

Morfit: I think the PGA would like to win, but is winning as important to the PGA as it is to the players, fans and media? No.

Jeff Ritter, senior producer, I agree that Watson's the wrong move, but I do think the U.S. should think outside the box to break its losing streak. I'd like to see Phil as a playing captain in 2014.

Van Sickle: That's assuming he can qualify for the team, Jeff?

Morfit: Phil would be a fun choice as captain, but I don't know that he would be a playing captain. Watching him sign autographs long after Team USA's hard loss at Medinah, I got the feeling he knew it could be his last hurrah.

Hanger: I love the idea of a playing captain some day, but I think the U.S. needs someone more ornery than Phil at the helm. Tiger!

Van Sickle: Well, I love the thought of Phil being able to tell Tiger what to do.

Dusek: I think a Tom Watson pick would be very interesting, and I have no doubt that he'd command the respect of all the players. But choosing someone like Tom, Arnie or Jack doesn't mean the American team would have an advantage. As we saw at Medinah, Ryder Cups are won and lost with the putter, not the captain.

Ryan Reiterman, senior producer, I'd like to see Watson get another shot just because it would be fascinating. But I agree about Couples. No reason why the PGA of America shouldn't give him the nod. Guys clearly love playing for him.

Mike Walker, senior editor, Golf Magazine: Tom Watson would be a great captain in 2016. The current system of choosing a captain not that far removed from his playing days means that the captain is one of the boys and too deferential to his players. What do you think Watson would say if a red-hot Mickelson told him he wanted to sit out the afternoon? Also, he would have no problem sitting a poor-playing Tiger.

Godich: Does the U.S. win at Medinah if Fred is calling the shots?

Ritter: Well, if you believe Ian Poulter, the U.S. would've won if the U.S. captain had set the pins on 17 and 18 on the left instead of the right.

Van Sickle: Great question, Mark. For starters, what four players would Fred have picked? Same as Davis? I doubt it.

Godich: And would Fred have sent Keegan Bradley back out for Saturday afternoon play and sat a struggling Steve Stricker?

Morfit: Davis did a lot right the first two days.

Godich: Except for the issue of resting the red-hot Bradley. He had a chance to totally obliterate the Euros.

Tell us what you think in the comments section below: Would Tom Watson be a good choice for the next U.S. Ryder Cup captain?

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