Tom Watson has been named as the United States Ryder Cup Captain for 2014, returning to the role 19 years after he led his country to victory at The Belfry in 1993.
The eight-time Major Champion will lead the United States Team at Gleneagles, Scotland, from September 26-28, 2014, when he will be 65 years old, making him the oldest Captain in Ryder Cup history.
Sam Snead was 57 when he was US Captain in 1969, and the oldest European captain was John Jacobs (56) in 1981, although 62 year old John Henry Taylor led the Great Britain Team in 1933.
Watson is the first repeat captain for the US Team since Jack Nicklaus in 1987, when the Ryder Cup was played on his home course of Muirfield Village in Ohio. One of the most respected figures in golf worldwide, he becomes the seventh US Captain to get more than one shot at the job.
Watson, who won four out of his five Open Championships in Scotland, was announced by the PGA of America as the US Captain on NBC's "Today" Show on Thursday, and then gave his first official news conference at 10.30am ET from the 80th floor of the Empire State Building.
He is the last American Captain to win on European soil, presiding over a 15-13 victory in 1993, with the United States losing seven out of the nine Ryder Cups since that triumph, including a 14½-13½ defeat at Medinah Country Club in September.
PGA of America President Ted Bishop said: “Tom Watson is one of the most respected players and ambassadors in the game of golf, and The PGA of America is excited that he has accepted the task of once again guiding a United States Ryder Cup Team.
“The 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles will mark 21 years since the US has won a Ryder Cup on foreign soil. Tom was the last American Captain to accomplish this feat and we hope that he can do it again.”
Watson, who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1988 into the World Golf Hall of Fame, has won more than 70 professional championships since becoming a professional in 1971.
His eight major titles include five Open Championships (1975, 77, 80, 82, 83), two Masters Tournaments (1977, 81), and the 1982 U.S. Open. He was runner up in the 1978 US PGA Championship and he also lost in a play-off to Stewart Cink in the 2009 Open Championship at Turnberry at the age of 59, while he has also won three Senior Open Championships, all of them of Scottish soil.
Watson said: "In 2014 in Perthshire, Gleneagles will host the Ryder Cup for only the second time in golf's birthplace – Scotland – a place that has been very special to me during my career.
“It’s hard to believe that it was nearly 20 years ago that I enjoyed one of the most thrilling experiences in my career in being Captain of the winning 1993 Ryder Cup Team. The memories I take from there are forever imprinted, especially Davis Love’s winning putt to seal the victory for our team late in the singles matches.
“As the 2014 Captain, it is my task to add a sense of calm and organisation to the boiling pot of nerves and emotions the players experience in playing for our country and their fellow teammates. I will do all I can possibly do to see that the outcome of these 2014 Matches will be the same as in 1993.”
Watson competed on four US Ryder Cup Teams (1977, ’81, ’83 and ’89), compiling a 10-4-1 overall record.
Richard Hills, European Ryder Cup Director, said: “Everyone associated with Ryder Cup Europe extends our sincere congratulations to Tom Watson on his appointment as Captain of the United States Team for The 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
“Tom is one of the most highly respected individuals the game of golf has ever known and he will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role. We also know of his deep affection for golf in Scotland, and I know Tom and his team will be afforded the warmest of welcomes when they travel to Perthshire in September 2014."
Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond also offered his congratulations to Watson.
He said: “I am delighted to offer my congratulations to Tom Watson and the PGA of America on behalf of Scotland for his well-deserved appointment as US Ryder Cup Captain. I can think of no-one better to represent the US Team when The Ryder Cup returns to The Home of Golf in a little under two years time.
“Tom Watson is, in the truest sense of the word, a golfing legend and someone who will always hold a special place in the hearts of the Scottish golfing public. His incredible feats on Scottish soil are part of an illustrious golfing history in our country. From his ‘Duel in the Sun’ with Jack Nicklaus in 1977 at Turnberry to his agonising near-miss in the Open Championship at the same venue in 2009, Tom has always felt at home in Scotland and he will be welcomed back with open arms in September 2014.
“The memories of Medinah are still very much fresh in the mind but Scotland is already preparing for 2014 and the appointment of Tom as US captain will make this event even more special than it promises to be.”
Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland, Scotland’s national tourism agency, added: “In 2014 Scotland is preparing to welcome the world but now we are looking forward to welcoming one very special guest in particular.
“Tom Watson has long been adopted by Scottish golf fans as one of their own and although the matches on the course in 2014 will be hotly contested, Tom is assured of the warmest of welcomes by the Scottish public.
“He has been a terrific ambassador for Scotland as the undisputed Home of Golf over the years. Golf fans the world over have traveled to Scotland looking to emulate his legendary performances on our historic courses and his appointment as US captain is a terrific one not only for the US team and the PGA of America, but for Scotland as well.”