New blood might help U.S. team

One major down and three to go before Tom Watson finalizes his American Ryder Cup team on Sept. 2 and tries to bring the hardware back to the United States for the first time since 2008.

At this point, we know two things: (1) The Europeans have been dominant in this event, winning seven of the last nine contests and (2) there will be two Watsons on the American side. Captain Tom will be joined by Bubba, who by winning the Masters Tournament on Sunday locked up his spot on the team and went to the top of the American points race.

No one else is a certainty on the U.S team.

There are 139 days until the final three picks are made to round out the team of 12. With three majors on deck and double points awarded for all of them, three players -- Bubba Watson, Jimmy Walker and Patrick Reed -- have won more than once in the calendar year; the latter two would be Ryder Cup rookies.

Veterans such as Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Hunter Mahan are either recovering from surgery, dealing with injury, not competing enough to be consistently racking up points or just playing bad golf.

If I am Captain Watson, I say, "Good. We'll win with fresh enthusiasm, new blood and less scar tissue."

Watson was no fool picking two veteran vice-captains in Andy North and Raymond Floyd. North still smarts about a Ryder Cup loss early in his career, and Floyd has never lost a Ryder Cup he has been a part of whether as a player, captain or vice-captain. These guys have been there -- domestically and overseas -- and are exactly what will be needed with a team that looks like it could be a bit thin on Ryder Cup experience.

Tom Watson is beloved in Scotland after winning four of his five Open Championships there, and that will be another factor to minimize the disadvantage of playing overseas.

Much will undoubtedly be made of Woods not making the team in late September if he does not play his way onto the squad in the second half of the season or by a Watson captain's pick. (It was reported Monday that Woods will probably miss the U.S. Open at Pinehurst.)

Based on Woods' anemic 13-14-2 record in the Ryder Cup and knowing the last time the U.S. won he was not on U.S. captain Paul Azinger's team due to injury, I say it's nothing to lose sleep over.

Foursomes (alternate shot) has been the worst format for Tiger -- becoming more of a liability, with a 4-7-1 record, than the asset one would think he would be. Mickelson is actually worse, without a winning record in any format during his Ryder Cup career.

Television ratings might suffer, but the true golf fan and those captivated by the nationalism of the Ryder Cup are going to watch anyway. Azinger won at Valhalla with six rookies, which was half his team. I would love to see Tom Watson have that same great fortune.

Guys like Walker, Reed, Jordan Spieth, Harris English and Kevin Stadler -- who have never experienced the losing end of a Ryder Cup -- and others like Jason Dufner and Rickie Fowler -- who have each played on one losing team but played well -- won't have lasting trauma from the heartbreak of two straight one-point American losses.

Lean on the experience of your captain and vice-captains and go start a new history for American Ryder Cup success. Plan on a little extra time to throw up before you hit your first shot in the Ryder Cup, and then go get it done.

The Americans have played tight and tentative over the last few Ryder Cups; let a fresh bunch of talent wing it more and win.

Expect more volatility as we go through these next three major championships. Spieth and Matt Kuchar moved from outside to inside the top nine automatic qualifiers during the Masters, while Fowler went from 23rd to 15th with his best ever Masters finish.

Nothing is certain, except that Watson and Watson will be there ... and that the United States needs to win at Gleneagles in late September to continue the rising interest in these matches.

I am counting down those days!