Bubba scores a Ryder Cup slot
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.
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.