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Ryder Cup: Rory McIlroy is the scalp we want, says US captain Tom Watson

By Kevin Garside

Though they claim all points gained are of equal value, US captain Tom Watson spelled out the merit of a big scalp when purring over the bio-mechanics of the Rory McIlroy swing.

"He's the guy, he's the one we want to take down," said Watson.

"You look at '83 when (Fuzzy) Zoeller played Seve (Ballesteros) first up (in the singles).

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"He came back from four down to claim a half. That made a huge difference to our team. It changed the dynamic. It was a big momentum swing and we fed off that."

Watson is a veteran of four campaigns as a player and one as captain.

At 65 he has seen all there is to see in the game, and he brings to the piece a welcome sagacity. But for all his years he is caught in the paradox that bedevils all professional sport, the contradiction between an endeavour that is essentially trivial, of no consequence to anyone, yet at the same time is of great importance in its own terms.

Attempting to put the contest in context, Watson fell into the same trap that has claimed previous American captains.

He invited two combat veterans to address his team, failing to comprehend that by doing so he has effectively militarised by association what is supposed to be friendly combat.

"We had some men who suffered nearly the ultimate sacrifice for their country, and to be able to speak to the players and the caddies was a wonderful experience for everybody. It was a special night for people," he said.

The American couplings are more predictable than the European ones.

"We kind of have an idea of who is going to play with whom at the beginning," said Watson.

"I'm pairing the same guys together in the practice rounds, have them get a feel for each other, each other's golf balls, things like that."

On that basis expect Rickie Fowler to team up with Jimmy Walker, Bubba Watson with Webb Simpson, Jim Furyk with Patrick Reed, Matt Kuchar with Jordan Spieth and Zach Johnson with Hunter Mahan. Phil Mickelson has already said he'd be joining up with Keegan Bradley again.

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Ryder Cup: Rory McIlroy is the scalp we want, says US captain Tom Watson

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