The United States is going old school for its next Ryder Cup captain: Tom Watson.
It's a good plan for 2014 at Gleneagles in Scotland if only because precious little has worked recently for the Americans, who have lost seven of the past nine competitions to Europe since a Watson-led team won in England in 1993. The United States is winless in four road endeavors since that triumph.
Watson is something of an adopted son in Scotland for having won four of his five British Open titles there but knows that whatever goodwill he has engendered during his career won't much matter when it comes to this passionate rivalry.
"They'll be rooting against me," Watson said after the announcement last Thursday during NBC's "Today" show.
Not that Watson will care.
He said he has "lived under" and "loved" that kind of pressure throughout a Hall of Fame career, and he looks forward to immersing himself in it again after "waiting 20 years" to get another call to serve as captain. Watson will be 65 when the event is played, which will make him the oldest U.S. captain in Ryder Cup history dating to 1927.
"We've got the right man for the job," said Ted Bishop, president of PGA of America.
The selection of Watson is a detour from the norm, which has featured U.S. captains in their late 40s or early 50s.
Lanny Wadkins, Tom Kite, Ben Crenshaw, Curtis Strange, Hal Sutton, Tom Lehman, Paul Azinger, Corey Pavin and Davis Love III have been U.S. captains since Watson in '93. Wadkins, Kite, Azinger, Pavin and Love played back then for Watson, who becomes the first repeat U.S. captain since Jack Nicklaus (1983, 1987).
"I think it's the right time to do something different," Pavin said. "There's a deeper respect for somebody like Tom, who isn't really a peer of the players who'll be on the team. He's from a different generation, and what he has accomplished in golf stands for itself."
Azinger told the Golf Channel he was surprised by the choice of Watson, but supported it.
"I believe there's a philosophy the PGA of America has had in place for a while that hasn't really worked," Azinger said. "Had we been winning Ryder Cups all along, that would have been great."
Instead, the United States has lost five of the past six matches with the only win coming in 2008 under Azinger.
The consideration of Watson wasn't a late development despite suggestions to the contrary as speculation began to focus on him rather than Larry Nelson and David Toms.
In fact, Bishop said his first contact with Watson on the subject happened more than a year ago. Watson was pheasant hunting in South Dakota when Bishop called to broach the idea.
Bishop and his PGA of America colleagues soon put together an 85-page document stating why Watson should take another turn in charge.
"He's the best choice for the venue and circumstance," Bishop said, citing a "weariness" of losing.
Watson, an eight-time major champion who went 10-4-1 in Ryder Cup matches as a player, said, "I learned to win by hating to lose. It's time to stop losing. Hopefully, we will change the tide."
A general criticism of U.S. captains is that they've allowed players too much influence in terms of preferred partnerships. Watson, always regarded as a hard-line thinker who speaks his mind, will listen to advice but resolved to be his own best counsel.
Said Watson: "The ultimate decision is mine."
Watson has offered the standard disclaimer about being nothing more than a "stage manager," but golf analyst Andy North told ESPN.com that Watson is "going to do things his way."
Nicklaus, who designed the Centenary Course at Gleneagles on which the 2014 Ryder Cup will be contested, is Watson's longtime friend and one-time fierce on-course rival. He called Watson a good leader and warned not to underestimate the worth of his popularity in Scotland.
"I guess you could say that if they wanted to pick a winner to lead them in Scotland, they've done that," Nicklaus said. "The love and embrace Tom will receive will likely be the most anybody could hope for when leading a team on foreign soil."
Watson gets the chance he "wanted to do again" ever since his first tour as Ryder Cup captain.
It's a long way from a pheasant hunt. It's an even longer way from 1993.
But it's a good plan.