Fred Couples, who has captained the United States to victory in the Presidents Cup three times, believes his Ryder Cup counterpart Tom Watson will learn more about his potential charges by sending them text messages, writes Bernie McGuire.
Watson will select a team to take on Europe at Gleneagles as the biennial event returns to Scotland later this year.
At 65, Watson is the oldest Ryder Cup captain of all time, three years older than the great JH Taylor, who captained the 1933 Great Britain and Ireland side to victory.
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He is unlikely to have to had much direct contact with the younger generation to American players to emerge, then. Indeed only two of those in position to qualify for the US team are players he would be familiar with: his fellow Masters winners Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson. Watson sits down with the pair every April at the former champions' dinner at Augusta.
His knowledge of such as 31-year-old Jimmy Walker - who leads the points table with three wins already in the 2013/14 PGA Tour wraparound schedule, including last Sunday's dramatic AT&T National Pebble Beach Pro-Am victory - is not likely to be quite as complete. Then there is 26-year-old Harris English, fifth on the points list, 31-year old Ryan Moore (seventh), 28-year old Chris Kirk (ninth) and 20-year-old sensation Jordan Spieth (20th), who was in a share of fourth place behind Walker at Pebble Beach.
Watson is certain to get as much information as he can on potential players and Couples is convinced that texting is the ideal way to do just that. "I don't think Tom knows Keegan Bradley or Brandt Snedeker or Jordan Spieth; heck, I didn't know Jordan before he was on last year's Presidents Cup side," said Couples. "But then I'm a big texter. I don't want to call these guys so I text them and, if they answer, I will tease them for 30 minutes.
"After 30 minutes of getting them to tell me stuff, it was very easy for me to figure, for example, that Spieth was ready to play and that he liked Steve Stricker, and Steve Stricker liked him. That's why I paired Jordan with Steve, and they won their opening two matches last year at Muirfield Village.
"If I'd been talking face-to-face to Spieth, he's not going to tell me he's nervous or I don't want to play with this or that guy. But if you text them enough, they are bound to say something in a text. It's easier than sometimes talking face-to-face."
Couples does not believe the appointment of Watson is a gamble as the Americans look to end a period of Europe domination which has brought wins in five of the past six Ryder Cups. "If we are lucky enough to win [at Gleneagles], are you going to tell me Paul McGinley [the Europe captain] is a bad captain? No, you're not," he said.
"When it comes to Sunday, like the time we won at Brookline [with an improbable turnaround in the singles] and when Europe won in Chicago, it just snowballs. There's nothing Tom Watson or anyone else can do.
"He is a good choice and he will have a blast; everyone will. Tom's also very popular in Scotland, so he's already been a good choice."