Sports

Tom Watson is playing at Newport Beach, but thinking of Ryder Cup

SportsRyder CupToshiba CorporationPatrick ReedMitsubishi Electric CorporationMasters TournamentPGA Tour

Just after telling reporters that Patrick Reed already has "street cred," Tom Watson showed his with his message to the U.S. Ryder Cup team that he will captain.

"We have something to prove," Watson said about the U.S. team's recent losses in the Ryder Cup, including squandering a big lead in singles play on the final day to Europe two years ago. "If that's the only thing I have to say to the team, I'll say, 'Remember 2012. Remember 2012. What are you going to do about it?' "

Watson was at Newport Beach Country Club, site of the 20th Toshiba Classic, which begins Friday.

Watson, 64, has yet to win the Toshiba Classic on the Champions Tour and wants to do something about it. Watson called the small course "a great test of golf," but he has a better chance of mastering it amid highly ideal weather conditions this weekend.

He is playing for the eighth time in the Toshiba Classic, where he has three top-10 finishes, including a fifth-place finish last year.

Watson did say something that might be perceived as uncharacteristic, when he described Reed as a golfer who has "street cred." But he has used the term before.

This time, Watson was referring to Reed's recent comment that he belongs on the list of the world's top five golfers.

Watson didn't knock Reed, saying he understood the 23-year-old's confidence because he has won three times in his last 14 PGA Tour events, including last week's Cadillac Championship at Doral, Fla.

Reed sits No. 4 on the Ryder Cup points and rankings list for the U.S. team. But Watson repeatedly said it's too early to talk about the Cup players and how he'll work with each of them.

For now, Watson will say only how special it is to be captain of the U.S. team for the second time and that it has nothing to do with adding to his rich legacy.

"I don't look at my legacy," Watson said. "You guys write about my legacy. I don't do anything about my legacy except do what I do, play golf. I wanted to be Ryder Cup captain to have the opportunity to inspire, if you will, help the Ryder Cup team win the Ryder Cup back. I'm sick and tired of us losing."

Watson, who won eight major championships, said he expects his experience to provide a calmness to the U.S. Ryder Cup team this year in Scotland.

Being at peace will only help at Newport Beach, where Watson will go up against a talented field, that includes David Frost, who will try to become the first Toshiba Classic winner to repeat as champion.

Frost said last year's victory at Newport Beach was special because it came on the weekend of the first anniversary of his father's death. Repeating would provide even more meaning.

The South African said he is staying with friends at a house on the sand in Newport Beach, just as he did last year.

Bernhard Langer, the two-time Masters champion, enters the three-day tournament with plenty of momentum, having won the first event on the Champions Tour, the Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hawaii. He also finished tied for seventh and second in his next two events before Newport Beach, where he won in 2008.

Jay Haas, 60, who won the Toshiba Classic in 2007, remains a steady player on the Champions Tour. He has three top-five finishes in as many starts this year. Eight of his nine rounds have been in the 60s.

Fred Couples, the 2010 Toshiba Classic champion, is among the fan favorites playing this week.

sports@latimes.com

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