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Published September 12, 2015
Tom Watson has been preaching about redemption for the Americans at the Ryder Cup — at least to the press.
The players don't seem to need additional motivation.
Only seven players from that 2012 team that blew a big lead at Medinah are at Gleneagles this week. Yes, the loss still stings. The Americans had a 10-6 lead going into the Sunday singles and won only three matches. But it's not like losing the Ryder Cup is anything new for the Americans, who have taken the cup home just twice since 1993.
"The whole redemption thing ... I'm not suggesting that there's not some validity to it," Zach Johnson said Tuesday. "I don't know where it started or who came up with it. I don't think it was anybody on our team and I don't think that's necessarily our approach. That was two years ago. My motivation isn't because we lost two years ago. My motivation is because I'm playing in the Ryder Cup, and it doesn't matter what happened two years ago.
"I'm still upset that we lost two years ago," he said. 'But I'm not here to redeem myself."
The message primarily has come from Watson, who mentioned it when he filled out his American team in New York three weeks ago, repeated it last week in a conference call, and brought up again in his opening press conference at Gleneagles.
"I made it very clear to them that this trip is a redemption trip," Watson said. "Those players that played on that team, if any players are on this team, it's time to make amends and try to redeem yourselves from what happened in 2012."
The U.S. team gathered in Atlanta on Sunday evening for a charter to Scotland. They had a light practice to start getting over the jet lag on Monday afternoon, got together in their team room that night, had the photo session Tuesday morning and then their first full day of practice.
How much has the meltdown at Medinah been part of the conversation? According to Jim Furyk, not much.
"I would say that it's been mentioned, but I wouldn't say there's been really any discussion about it," Furyk said. "Has there been much discussion? I would say no. Has it been mentioned? Yes. But I don't think I've heard more than about 20 to 30 seconds on it."
Watson said he had a pit in his stomach watching the Americans throw away a chance to win the Ryder Cup at Medinah. The PGA of America called him a few months later and asked him to be the next skipper, and he jumped at the chance.
The 65-year-old is a beloved figure in Scotland, where he won four of his five British Open titles. He also was the last captain of a U.S. team that won the Ryder Cup on European soil. That was in 1993, and Watson has not been to another Ryder Cup since then.
"I've been there every time watching intently on TV," he said.
It hasn't been pretty. The losses have piled up in Spain and England, in Ireland and Wales. Even at home, the Americans couldn't get it done at Oak Hill or Oakland Hills, with the real blow at Medinah.
Redemption? Some players are more interested in looking ahead.
Matt Kuchar was asked if the "redemption" theme was overcooked and replied, "I would have to think so." He has been on the last two teams, both one-point losses. Both times, the Americans won more sessions than Europe. But the one session Europe won was a rout both times.
Europe is considered the favorite this week, a product of having two of the year's major champions on the team (Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer), having won seven of the last nine times, and being on home soil in front of their boisterous fans.
"I think we come in here as perceived underdogs," Kuchar said. "But everybody here thinks they have got every bit the same chance that the home country has. So I don't think there's a revenge nature in the game of golf. I think guys are looking to go out and play their best, and everybody feels like they have a chance to win. I think we come in absolutely feeling like we have a chance to win."