Tiger Woods and Bubba Watson each found themselves in different shoes for the 2016 Ryder Cup, taking on the role of vice captain instead of teeing it up as players.
As they prepare to play in this week’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, they sat down with the Golf Channel and reflected on the experience and shared some of the joys, and some of the challenges, of the job of vice captain.
“The beauty of the Ryder Cup, and the beauty of being part of the team and being a captain is it’s another form of Hall of Fame,” Watson said. “There’s less vice captains than there are players, so it was a short list, so it makes me feel better that people wanted me there, wanted me in the locker room.”
Watson also talked about the change in perspective allowing him to become a better player, potentially for another run at joining the next Ryder Cup team.
“I learned so much,” Watson said. “I saw from the other side of it, and saw what kind of person I was looking in and so now I’m going to change who I am as a player if I make the team again.”
One thing both Woods and Watson heavily agreed on was the amount of work that goes into being a vice captain and how much they take for granted as players during major events such as the Ryder Cup.
“What people don’t realize is how much work goes into it from the captaincy side,” Woods said. “We as players, we take it for granted. All we have to do is get used to a couple golf balls, a few players and go get ready. The captain side of it, there are a lot of duties.”
Part of that work, it turns out, is playing part babysitter, part coach and part equipment manager, among other duties.
“It was like a school bus,” Watson said as Woods agreed with laughter. “We had to make sure everyone was on it, check the list. Then we went to bed before everyone else because we were deciding what pairings were going out. Then we had to make the sandwiches.
“And then we had to make sure people had tees. That was the biggest one. I was like ‘y’all are professional golfers and you don’t have tees?’”
On the coaching side of things, Woods reflected on what he said was one of the toughest conversations he’s had to have with Dustin Johnson about sitting out during one of the sessions.
“This guy is the hottest player probably on the planet, and I had to tell him he had to sit out a match,” Woods said. “He took it great.
“That part of it was really cool to see. A team leader like Dustin take charge of that and respond to a team concept.”
During the pre-tournament press conference, Woods was asked about his Ryder Cup captain aspirations. He said that in the near future, he hopes he can be a playing assistant — as he had actually hoped to be for the 2016 tournament — but, he plans to follow the process set up with the Ryder Cup committee and take the advice given to him by prior captains to not rush into the role.
"There's one piece of advice I've gotten from virtually every captain I've talked to," Woods said. "Don't become captain unless your career is almost done or if not done, because it's two years of sacrificing of your life to do it your way."
Both vice captains will join players on that winning Ryder Cup team during their first round at the Hero World Championship. Watson will be first off the tee with Rickie Fowler and Woods will play with the US team’s emotional leader Patrick Reed.
Check out the full Golf Channel interview here: