Tom Watson has only been the U.S. Ryder Cup captain for three months, and the 2014 Ryder Cup is still a good year and a half away. But Watson has been thinking hard about what he wants his team to look like when it arrives at Gleneagles Resort in Scotland in late September of next year.
The key to making Watson's team as a captain's pick, he said this week at the Toshiba Classic, is to be playing as well as possible in August of 2014.
''You know, it will be easy for you to determine who I'm going to pick on September 9th, 2014, or whenever it is. You'll say Watson is going to pick this guy because he just told me back 17 months ago how he's going to make his decision,'' he said. ''Well, I'm telling you how I'm going to make the decision right now.
''And the way I look at it, I want somebody on the upswing when they're going to the Ryder Cup,'' he explained. ''They're playing well, they've got some momentum going into the Ryder Cup.''
Watson is pleased that he won't have to make his picks until just a few weeks before the Ryder Cup.
Back when he previously served as captain in 1993, Watson said, ''you picked those picks in the second week of August and then you played at the end of September, so you had maybe six weeks of time for … their games to fall off. Now we do it the Monday after Labor Day, pick the picks, and now I have a better chance of seeing how these guys are playing.
''Are they on the upswing or downswing? That's how I assess who I'm going to be playing, putting in there,'' he said. ''If I have some players that are playing on the upswing, showing that they can play in the heat of competition and bad conditions, which we're going to have over there, those are the qualities I'm looking for in players.''