Tom Watson reduces his Ryder Cup picks


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The Independent Online

Tom Watson made his first significant move as America's Ryder Cup skipper by cutting the number of captain's picks from four to three.

Watson has given greater prominence to merit, partially reversing the policy introduced by Paul Azinger, which saw the number of captain's selections jump from two to four in 2008, America's only success in the last six outings.

"I truly think the players themselves ought to get another shot at getting on the team because of their play," Watson, who captained the United States to victory at The Belfry in 1993, said. "I just think giving players the opportunity to earn a spot on merit is the right thing to do."

Watson, at 63 the oldest captain in Ryder Cup history, will announce his three selections at the beginning of September next year. Three times a winner as a player, the eight-time major champion was returned to the captaincy in a left-field measure to arrest the alarming slide in American fortunes.

"The bottom line for the players themselves is that they are the catalysts. The players will know I have been through the Ryder Cup before. They will know I know what they are going through, what they are feeling," he said. "Old age and wisdom sometimes helps the process. It is my job to get the players in the right frame of mind."

The American Ryder Cup points table for Gleneagles begins at the Masters next month. Points will be awarded at all four majors this year. The Fry' Open in October kicks off the award of Ryder Cup points at regular tour events through to and including the 2014 US PGA Championship.

European qualification begins in September at the Wales Open at Celtic Manor, scene of Europe's dramatic triumph in 2010 under Colin Montgomerie's leadership. Captain Paul McGinley has only two discretionary selections.