GLENEAGLES, Scotland (AP) — The last man chosen for the U.S. Ryder Cup team lobbied Tom Watson into the wee hours of the morning.
Webb Simpson couldn’t sleep after arriving late in Denver following the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston. He was in the running as a captain’s pick. He thought he would have heard something by then. So he picked up his phone and made a desperate plea to Watson.
“I texted him, something like, ‘I know it’s a really tough decision for you, I know Chris (Kirk) just won and I know Bill (Haas) is playing good, and you even have other options than that. But I really, really, really want to be on the team and I really want to represent the United States. I love this format, and I’ll do anything to be on the team.’ Something to that extent.”
Even more surprising was how quickly Watson replied. The message: “This is a tough decision, Webb.” And it made Simpson think he has missed out.
Then, Watson called and asked Simpson why he should be in the team. It was 4:30 a.m. Watson was to announce his picks that night.
“I just told him about my passion for the Ryder Cup from my one experience, and how much I cared about it, and how much I believed I thought I could bring to the team,” Simpson said.
A few hours later, Watson decided to pick Simpson.
The U.S. Open champion in 2012 was paired with Bubba Watson for the opening fourballs match against Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson.
“I had to explain to Webb that we were playing at 7:35 a.m., so he was like, ‘Whoa, whoa, that’s a little early for me, buddy,'” Bubba Watson said. “We’ll have a couple of coffees and we’ll be ready to go.”
NEW PAIRING: Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia began their lobbying to Europe captain Paul McGinley at the end of May. It took a few months for McGinley to listen.
They raised the prospect of playing together during the European Tour’s flagship PGA Championship at Wentworth in May, but McGinley let it pass.
McIlroy and Garcia grew closer over the summer as they contended at the British Open at Hoylake and the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone. McIlroy held off a fast-finishing Garcia to lift the claret jug for the first time and then came from three shots behind the Spaniard on the final day at Akron to seal back-to-back wins.
Garcia was pushed into second both times but a friendship was formed.
McGinley put them together for the first time at a Ryder Cup in a powerhouse pairing that will take on Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson in the final fourballs match on Friday. McIlroy is the world’s top-ranked player and Garcia is No. 3.
“It was quite clear not just on the golf course but off the golf course, there’s a real bonding going on,” McGinley said. “Statistics are very strong, they enjoy each other’s company, and in a lot of ways, it was a natural fit.”
KAYMER’S BALL: Martin Kaymer doesn’t care which brand of golf ball he uses if he plays in foursomes.
“I don’t really care,” Kaymer said, “as long as it’s white and not pink. I played with Paula Creamer last week at the SAP day and I struggled with that ball. But as long as it’s white, I don’t care.”
Creamer, who plays on the LPGA Tour, uses a pink ball on occasion.
TOUGH QUESTIONS: The toughest test for Justin Rose this week has come in his media conference.
First he was asked if he was bothered that there were no black players, captains or vice captains at Gleneagles this week.
Then he was asked if he agreed that the male-only policy of three courses on the British Open rotation — Muirfield, Royal St. George’s and Royal Troon — should be scrapped in the wake of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club allowing female members for the first time in its 260-year history last week.
“There’s definitely a situation there where if you’re going to host such high-profile events, you need to conform a little bit more with what’s acceptable in the mainstream society,” Rose said. “There’s definitely a point, and I would say I would probably agree with that.”
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CADDIE BACK: Lance Bennett is back to work this week at Gleneagles as the caddie for Matt Kuchar, just the right atmosphere to help cope with his grieving.
Bennett’s wife, Angela, died of a seizure a month ago. The couple has a 4-year-old daughter.
Kuchar has used a friend to caddie the final three weeks of the FedEx Cup playoffs. Bennett wanted to be around his second family at the Ryder Cup. He did not come over on the team charter, but showed up early with a few other caddies.
“He and a couple guys that came early greeted us as we arrived at the front of the hotel,” Kuchar said. “Everybody — one after one — went up, gave him a big hug, got to spend some time with him. And most guys are happy to see him back to some sort of normalcy. It’s great to have him back as part of the family.
“We all felt like we lost a little something when we lost Angie. When she passed, we lost a bit of Lance, as well,” he said. “And to have him back has been great.”
AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson contributed to this report.
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