Watson Will Have Three Instead of Four Captain's Picks for 2014 Ryder Cup

Tom Watson said on Wednesday that he'll be relinquishing one of his traditional four captain's picks for the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team. Watson, announced as the captain in December, said that he'd prefer that the top nine selections be based on merit, and not on personal preference.

"Giving our players one more opportunity to earn a spot on merit, I believe, is the right thing to do," the 63-year-old said in a PGA of America news release announcing the change. "I will use all possible resources in choosing these three captain's choices to complete the best possible team in order to win the Cup back for the United States."

In December, Watson expressed concern after two-time Ryder Cup player, Hunter Mahan - the ninth qualifier for the 2012 Cup at Medinah, wasn't selected by captain Davis Love III. Love - and Mahan agreed with him - felt that Mahan wasn't playing well enough at the time to be selected. In Watson's case, Mahan would be an automatic selection.

"It takes a lot of pressure off the captain," Mahan told The Associated Press of reducing the selections to three. "Four guys is a lot. It's a lot of guys to pick. There's a lot of different scenarios you can use. You can ask four people that might give you four different answers. So it takes the pressure off the captain."

Mahan, who won the 2012 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in February followed by the Shell Houston Open in April before his season tailed off, added, "There's really no right answer unless you win, and then you did all the right things, and if you lose, you did all the wrong things. It's difficult. It's not an easy thing to be captain."

The four-selection system has been in place since the 2008 Ryder Cup, when captain Paul Azinger led the Americans to a 16 to 11 victory at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky. Since then, the process hasn't been as successful, with the Americans losing in Wales in 2010 and again last year in Chicago.

The 2014 Ryder Cup will be held September 26-28 at Gleneagles in Scotland. Despite losing 10 of the last 14 matches, the U.S. have won 25 of the 39 matches in the biennial competition, which originated in 1927.