Bubba scores a Ry­der Cup slot

The Myanmar Times - - Sport - – AFP

TWO-TIME Masters cham­pion Bubba Wat­son will get to be part of the US Ry­der Cup team af­ter all, even though the sev­enth-ranked star was not se­lected as a cap­tain’s pick.

US cap­tain Davis Love named Wat­son an as­sis­tant cap­tain on Septem­ber 26, four days be­fore the Amer­i­cans face hold­ers Europe in the 41st edi­tion of the bi­en­nial men’s golf team matches at Hazel­tine.

Wat­son was among the fi­nal se­lec­tions for the last US cap­tain’s se­lec­tion that was given over the week­end to first-time Cup starter Ryan Moore hours af­ter he fin­ished sec­ond in a play­off to Rory McIl­roy at the Tour Cham­pi­onship.

Love said that just af­ter he told Wat­son that he was not se­lect­ing him to play, Wat­son vol­un­teered to help the cause in or­der to be part of the group they hope will win back the tro­phy af­ter three losses in a row.

“He said, ‘I still want to be a part of this team if you’ll have me,’” Love said of Wat­son. “We’re still in dis­be­lief. It was an in­cred­i­ble ges­ture.”

While some crit­ics wor­ried Wat­son could be a dis­rup­tive fig­ure on the US squad, Love said noth­ing of the sort was true.

“He adds a lot of fun, a dif­fer­ent per­son­al­ity,” Love said. “He brings a great heart. We’re thrilled to have him on this team.”

Wat­son joins a US as­sis­tant cap­tain lineup that in­cludes Tiger Woods – two weeks shy of his planned re­turn af­ter more than a year off fol­low­ing back surgery – Jim Furyk, Tom Lehman and Steve Stricker.

“We’ve got quite an in­ter­est­ing group,” Love said. “We felt like we needed some ex­pe­ri­ence. Ob­vi­ously Bubba rounds that out – ma­jor cham­pi­onship ex­pe­ri­ence, Ry­der Cup ex­pe­ri­ence – on our side.” In three Ry­der Cup ap­pear­ances as a player in 2010, 2012 and 2014, Wat­son went 3-8, win­less in three sin­gles matches and two al­ter­nate shot four­somes matches but 3-3 in four-ball.

Love had made a point of telling Wat­son, who nar­rowly missed out on an au­to­matic berth, af­ter the first three picks were made early this month that he had one more se­lec­tion re­main­ing, then gave that to Moore.

“We had a lot of guys that were re­ally close,” Love said. “It was a tough de­ci­sion. We waited un­til the last minute to catch a hot player. Ryan week af­ter week was the hottest player since the PGA Cham­pi­onship. He has just been right there at the fore­front for us.”

In ad­di­tion to his bat­tle with McIl­roy on the week­end, Moore won last month’s John Deere Clas­sic. Wat­son won the most re­cent of his nine US PGA ti­tles, in­clud­ing the 2012 and 2014 Masters, last Fe­bru­ary at Riviera.

Photo: AFP

Bubba Wat­son waves to the gallery af­ter a birdie on the 17th hole dur­ing the third round of the TOUR Cham­pi­onship at East Lake Golf Club in At­lanta, Geor­gia on Septem­ber 24.

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