CHASKA, Minn. — Bubba Watson will be at the Ryder Cup, even if it’s not exactly the way he imagined it.
U.S. captain Davis Love III announced Monday that Watson has been added to the team as a fifth vice captain. The two-time Masters champion and 7th-ranked player in the world competed as a player on the last three U.S. squads, and said at the start of the year that his goals were to play in both the Olympics and the Ryder Cup.
Watson finished tied for eighth at the Rio Games, but he wound up just outside of the eighth and last automatic qualifying spot as a Ryder Cup player. He then began lobbying behind the scenes for one of the four captain’s picks at Love’s discretion.
Watson was described as “heartbroken” after the first three picks went to J.B. Holmes, Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar. But he also made it a point to let Love know he “still wanted to be part of the team,” even if it meant as a non-playing assistant.
That appeared to count for little after Love used his final pick to add Ryan Moore just hours after he lost the Tour Championship to Rory McIlroy in a playoff Sunday. But the U.S. captain said he remained impressed by Watson’s unselfish gesture and decided to add him the following day.
“I told him we had an extra red cart and we’d love to have him,” Love said. “So he’s back at the hotel trying to get his clothes fit and get ready for assistant captain duties.”
Watson joins Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker, Tom Lehman and Jim Furyk as assistants. Love told at least one PGA of America official that he’d “have this figured out way before the Tour Championship starts.
“And I was, of course, completely wrong,” he said, laughing.
Love also talked previously about trying to balance all the outsized personalities that will make up the U.S. squad, as well as his assistants. After some review, he decided Watson would be a valuable complementary part.
“We felt like we needed experience with our assistant captains. We needed some former captain experience and some possible future captain experience. Obviously Bubba rounds that out; major championship experience, Ryder Cup experience, on our side,” Love said.
“He adds a lot of fun. He adds a different personality. But,” Love added, “he brings a great heart.”