Tom Watson Has Ryder Cup Regrets, Says Ted Bishop

Tom Watson Has Ryder Cup Regrets, Says Ted Bishop

Tom Watson and Ted Bishop at the 2014 Ryder Cup in Gleneagles, Scotland.
Robert Beck/SI

PGA of America president Ted Bishop defended his selection of Tom Watson as U.S. Ryder Cup captain, but said that Watson had some regrets about his decisions before and during Team USA’s 16.5-11.5 loss to the European in Scotland.

In an interview with Jeff Ritter in the February issue of Golf Magazine, Bishop said that he still thinks the decision to pick Watson was “a no-brainer” and that the Team USA lost because the European were better, not because of any mistakes made by the captain.

Did Watson express any regrets about how the week unfolded?

Sunday morning, Tom and I went out with Zach Johnson, the last of the singles matches. We’re sitting on a cart in the first fairway, and Tom says to me, “You know, the biggest regret I’ve got this week is that I don’t think I had our team prepared, based on how I think we should have played practice rounds.” He said, “These guys want to go out and play money games, but I don’t think that allows you to fully prepare for what you’ve gotta do with the Ryder Cup format.” I think Tom did everything he could have done. We got beat by 30-some shots. I don’t care who the captain was — you’re not going to reverse that trend.

If it wasn’t Watson, why did the U.S. get so soundly thumped, 16.5–11.5?

That’s a great question. I think the Europeans are in a cycle right now where they simply have better players. I remember having this conversation with Peter Baker, a former Ryder Cup player [on the 1993 European team], Sunday night after the Ryder Cup was over. I asked him, “Before this Ryder Cup, where would you have ranked Victor Dubuisson among the 12 players on the team?” He said, “No higher than seventh.” That’s about where I would’ve had him, too. Look at the success Dubuisson had as their seventh-best player [Dubuisson went 2-0-1]. That’s indicative of the kind of team they had. They clearly, top to bottom, have better players.

Do you think Watson bungled some of the pairings?

He got criticized for not playing Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed on Friday afternoon. And the fact is, Patrick Reed had not played well during practice rounds. There was even talk of Reed not playing at all on Friday.

But Reed played great in his Friday morning match with Spieth, and the two had excellent chemistry. Wouldn’t that trump Reed’s poor practice play?

When it came to not playing Reed and Spieth on Friday afternoon, there are reasons that it didn’t happen that I won’t disclose. There was a method to the madness. But if you asked Tom for his biggest regret in the pairings — and I don’t think I’m talking out of school—I think he’d tell you that he shouldn’t have played Mickelson and Bradley together in the alternate shot on Friday afternoon. He should have then played them Saturday morning and sat them out again on Saturday afternoon [during alternate shot], based on the way both of them were driving the ball. [The duo played erratically Friday afternoon while losing 3 and 2 to Dubuisson and Graeme McDowell].

You can read the full interview here.

Was Tom Watson to blame for Team USA’s loss in the 2014 Ryder Cup? Join the debate in the comments below.