Azinger backs Watson wildcard decision

Updated: Thursday, 21 Mar 2013 15:03

The last captain to inspire the United States to victory in the Ryder Cup has endorsed Tom Watson's decision to change the qualifying system for next year's contest at Gleneagles.

Paul Azinger was the first US captain to have four wild cards at his disposal and used them superbly in leading his side to victory at Valhalla in 2008.

But Corey Pavin in 2010 and Davis Love last year were not so successful and Watson has now decided to reduce his number of captain's picks from four to three as he seeks to end Europe's dominance of the biennial contest.

Watson consulted a number of former captains before making the move, including Azinger, who wrote on Twitter: "Revamping selection process was part of reason we won RC in 2008. US was 1 putt from retaining in 2010. Same in 2012. 4 picks to 3 minor chg (change)."

Europe have won seven of the last nine Ryder Cups since Watson, who is the oldest captain in the event's history and will be 65 at Gleneagles, captained the US to a 15-13 win at The Belfry in 1993.

However, the 63-year-old did not offer any detailed analysis as to why he was ringing the changes during an interview streamed live on rydercup.com.

"There's not a lot of method in my madness but I think the players ought to have another shot of getting on the team by merit," Watson said.

"I will use all possible resources in choosing these three captain's choices to complete the best possible team in order to win the cup back for the United States."

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European captain Paul McGinley has stated he is likely to "tweak" the current selection process - which uses two wild cards in addition to 10 qualifiers - rather than make a radical change.

Although Watson believes Europe's biggest home advantage is having played previous Ryder Cups on courses used for regular tour events, he will not insist on potential team members visiting the Centenary Course at Gleneagles - used for the Johnnie Walker Championship - in advance.

He added: "We are just going to have to ramp up our preparation and if the players choose to go over there.... The bottom line is to get your body on the right time as quickly as possible and then get to know the golf course.

"They do it for a living so I am not too concerned about them getting to know the golf course except for the fact that they haven't done it in all conditions."

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