Watson hints at Tiger-Phil duo

Tom Watson (AFP)
Tom Watson (AFP)

Rochester - US 2014 Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson hinted on Wednesday at a "Dream Team" pairing of world number one Tiger Woods and second-ranked Phil Mickelson next year at Gleneagles.

But don't expect the iconic 63-year-old winner of eight major titles - and nearly a ninth in the 2009 British Open at Turnberry - to necessarily pair the US duo together.

"You hope you can come up with an intimidation team," Watson said on Wednesday on the eve of the 95th PGA Championship.

"I would think that these guys, if they got on a roll, just think what type of intimidating team they could be. That's kind of the Dream Team."

But it didn't work out that way at the 2004 Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills, when US captain Hal Sutton put Woods and Mickelson together for the first day and watched a nightmare unfold, including Woods glaring at Mickelson after the left-hander left him in the trees off the tee in a crucial moment.

Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington beat Woods and Mickelson 2 and 1 in fourballs and Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood beat Woods and Mickelson 1 up in foursomes.

"Nothing is set in stone as far as the players who are going to be on the team," Watson said. "I know from past experience what teams seem to have worked the best and what teams didn't work. There's a history. I'll use that history."

Watson could be tweaking the European side after being denied pin placements for the Johnnie Walker Championship played at Gleneagles when he went for a visit.

"We asked for the pin sheets and I looked at them with a smile and said, 'You're not going to give them to us?' They said, 'No, we're not,'" Watson said. "They will give us some pin sheets. That's not a problem. That's no big deal. Kind of friendly repartee back and forth.

"I've been assured the golf course will not be set up with any particular bias. It's going to be set up by the European Tour. That's the right way to do it."

PGA of America president Ted Bishop selected Watson hoping he might be a difference maker in a close trophy fight, knowing nine of the past 13 Ryder Cups were decided by two points or less.

"You look at a guy like Watson with his success and his experience playing in Scotland and you know what, maybe somewhere along the line during the week, he's going to be worth a point or half a point to somebody and that will be the difference in the outcome," Bishop said.

European 2014 Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley of Ireland, is keeping an open mind ahead of the start of qualifying.

"I want to keep my mind very much open," he said. "I want to give everybody an equal chance in my own head and I don't want to feel like I have certain favorites."

He also has no worries about the poor form of Rory McIlroy, last year's PGA Championship winner who has struggled this season, expecting it will be a minor blip in the Northern Irishman's long career and saying he will not force his opinions upon the former world number one.

"Just because I'm Ryder Cup captain, I don't feel like it's my right or my duty to get involved in what he's doing in his life," McGinley said.

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