Bubba Watson chips on to the eighth green during the second round of the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, August 8, 2014. (REUTERS: John Sommers II)
PARAMUS, New Jersey — Twice Masters champion Bubba Watson says the thrill of merely making a Ryder Cup is no longer enough for him and that it is high time the U.S. side claimed victory.
“As a kid growing up, your whole dream was to be on the PGA Tour and then make the Ryder Cup team,” Watson told reporters on Tuesday ahead of Thursday’s first round of The Barclays, the opening event of the FedExCup playoffs.
“I think sometimes … we get so excited about making the team, and now not having a victory, not tasting a victory, that drives me to try to win one, to try to win a Ryder Cup,” the emotional left-hander said.
The biennial matchplay event will be held from Sept. 26-28 at Gleneagles in Scotland with the European side rated strong favorites over the U.S. team, who have lost seven of the last nine matches against Europe.
Watson will be appearing in his third successive Ryder Cup, carrying in a personal 3-5-0 record after losses at Celtic Manor in Wales in 2010 and at Medinah in 2012, when Europe triumphed after a rousing, record-tying Sunday comeback.
Yet the U.S. side, which once dominated the Cup, may look back at the devastating loss two years ago in the Chicago suburbs for motivation against a deep European team led by British Open champion and world number one Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and U.S. Open winner Martin Kaymer of Germany.
Matt Kuchar, a team mate of Watson’s in the last two Ryder Cups, struck an optimistic note.
“I’m pretty sure it will be a glass half-full idea to take whatever your situation and try to make it an advantage,” Kuchar said about using the underdog status to get fired up.
“That Medinah stung,” he conceded about the 10-6 lead the U.S. squandered in 2012 when Europe seized a whopping 8-1/2 points from the concluding 12 singles matches away from home to retain the trophy by 14-1/2 points to 13-1/2.
“I think it was hard for everybody but there were a couple of us that are local guys on Sea Island, Georgia, that see (then U.S. captain) Davis (Love) all the time, that are very close to Davis, that were so excited to make the team and play for him.
“And to lose it in the fashion we did really hurt. It will certainly be motivation.”
Kuchar, who has a 3-2-2 individual Cup record, said he liked the way U.S. players were coming on of late, other than the dominant McIlroy, who has won his last three events - the British Open, the WGC-Bridgestone and the PGA Championship.
“It certainly appears right now that the European team is stacked, playing really well,” said Kuchar. “(But) Jim Furyk’s played near dominating golf as well. He’s been up there every week. We’ve got a number of other guys playing well. It will be interesting.”
Watson said the Cup boils down to who shines on the greens.
“I think we’re all champions,” said Watson. “It’s all about making putts. When a guy makes you putt a three-footer, when a guy makes you putt a five-footer, you’re going to have to make them. That’s what it’s going to come down to.
“We can all hit the golf ball. It’s coming down to under the pressure, making the putts. I want to be a guy that has a ‘W’ by one of those.”