Ryder Cup spot means more to Watson than maiden Tour win

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

The American left-hander is 17th in the Cup standings with the leading eight players after next week's PGA Championship automatically qualifying for the biennial competition against Europe

"I've got two good weeks to go to have a shot at it," Watson told reporters after setting the first-round pace with a six-under-par 64 at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

"If it's a win this week or whatever it takes to get into the Ryder Cup, that's my main goal. I'm looking at the bigger picture. I'd give up my (Tour) win to play in the Ryder Cup.

"That's how much it means to me and how much of an honor it would be to play," he said of the team competition to be held at Celtic Manor, Wales from October 1-3.

The long-hitting Watson represented his country at college level in South Africa and would dearly love to experience international team golf at top level.

"South Africa was a thrill and we won that pretty easily, the four guys that went," the 31-year-old recalled. "So to have a chance to get back and play for your country, no matter if you win or lose, it's an honor.

"A lot of words are said back and forth between different (Ryder Cup) teams but, at the same time, we all have the thrill to play for our country, to wear the team colors and play."

Watson's life away from the course has changed considerably since he made his PGA Tour breakthrough with a playoff victory at the Travelers Championship in June.

"It's been hectic," said the Florida resident whose father is battling throat cancer. "I wanted to go see the family ... wanted to help me dad as much as possible, wanted to help me mom who doesn't know how to handle it obviously.

"It's been tough but, at the same time, there are more things to do. You're turning down things and you're excited about doing certain things. On the golf course, you're finally back doing what you love to do. It's when I can finally rest."

(Editing by Frank Pingue)