BUBBA Watson won’t step on to the first tee at Gleneagles next month and try and be a cheerleader again but he is determined to be a Ryder Cup winner for the first time in his career.
“It would mean a lot,” admitted the Masters champion, whose two previous appearances in the event both ended in defeat – in Wales four years ago, then Medinah in 2012.
“In my career, I am happy with my achievements, but the one thing I don’t have is a Ryder Cup victory.”
Watson, who won the Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles earlier in the season before claiming a second Green Jacket in two years at Augusta National, topped the US rankings for the Perthshire match heading into the US PGA Championship in Kentucky.
“Playing in the Ryder Cup is great for my career but winning it would be very special,” added the left-hander, who lost to Luke Donald in the opening singles as the home side surrendered a record-equalling lead on the last day to lose last time out in Chicago.
“Not that we dislike the Europeans – we play with them every week – but it is just one of those tournaments you want to win. They want to beat us as much as we want to beat them. It would be nice to have a win under my belt for that.”
Watson whipped up the American fans on the first tee at Medinah by urging them to make as much noise as they could when he teed off in his matches. Asked if he planned to mark Scotland’s first Ryder Cup in more than 40 years by doing something similar, he said: “No, I don’t think over there that I will. When it was here, it is my home country so I could do it. I think over there it will be about waterproofs and staying warm.”
Compared to the likes of Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, Watson will be one of the more experienced members of namesake Tom’s team as they bid to record a first win on European soil since 1993 at The Belfry.
“I don’t know if I will be a team leader but it will be fun,” he insisted. “I have been there and some of the guys have not been there, some of the guys that are trying to get there. It will be my third Ryder Cup, so I have some history, some feelings. So the younger guys, the guys that have never played on it – even if they are older than me – they can ask me questions and it will be fun. I will be considered a veteran, I guess.”
Like European counterpart Paul McGinley, US captain Watson will announce his wild-cards on 2 September, with Tiger Woods, Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson among those now relying on one of those.
“The wildcards are up for grabs,” admitted Bubba. “The players needing them are going to have three weeks to show some guts there and I think it is going to change a lot. There are nine people who are going to get in today and then it is up in the air. Somebody who is 23rd in the points right now could show some guts over the next few weeks and change his mindset dramatically.”
Watson’s own game has gone off the boil since those two early-season victories and he failed to break 70 in four rounds on a Valhalla course that should really have suited his prodigious power.
“Not at all,” he replied on being asked if his form was a concern. “If you look at my career, I always struggle in this second part of the season. I don’t know why that it is – I just do. I look forward to the challenge of trying to get better and I don’t feel I am that far off.
“There is a lot to play for still. I have got a week off to get ready for the four weeks in a row. Looking forward to it, I am going to be high for the FedEx Cup. Looking forward to the play-offs and getting to Atlanta and then it is the Ryder Cup.”
Watson was one of only a handful of players to complete their final round before play was suspended due to flooding. “Hopefully the weather is better than this at the Ryder Cup, but I have heard otherwise,” he said, smiling. “If it’s cool weather and no rain, we can deal with that. If there is rain and cold weather it is really tough.”