Updated: March 20, 2013, 12:25 PM ET

With recent woes, change might help U.S.

By Bob Harig | ESPN.com

ORLANDO -- Tom Watson made a curious move Wednesday, electing to forego one of his at-large selections when the U.S. Ryder Cup team plays in Scotland next year.

Perhaps it doesn't matter a bit, and there is no perfect formula. European captain Jose Maria Olazabal had just two picks last year, and his team prevailed at Medinah. U.S. captain Davis Love III had four picks and the Americans were defeated 14 -13 .

So Watson might be on to something. Then again, don't you want every choice available to you?

"Giving our players one more opportunity to earn a spot on merit, I believe, is the right thing to do," Watson said. "I will use all possible resources in choosing these three captain's choices to complete the best possible team in order to win the Cup back for the United States."

Tom Watson
AP Photo/Seth WenigTom Watson put his first early stamp on the 2014 Ryder Cup when he trimmed down his captain's picks for the American squad from four to three.

The U.S. went to four picks under captain Paul Azinger in 2008 -- the only year the Americans have won the Cup since 1999. The past two competitions saw excruciating 14 -13 defeats while captain's Corey Pavin and Love had four picks.

Maybe changing it up is good.

And it leads us to the "what-if" game that typically plays out in defeat. Under this format, Hunter Mahan would have made the U.S. team in 2012. Perhaps Jim Furyk or Steve Stricker would have been left off.

Mahan, who won twice in 2012, was left off the team despite finishing ninth in points. Of course, he played poorly over the final four months of the qualifying period and couldn't hold onto what was the No. 1 position heading into the Masters. Stricker was 10th and Furyk was 11th. The other captain's picks were Dustin Johnson and Brandt Snedeker.

Stricker and Furyk, however, were clearly the lightning rods for criticism after the U.S. blew a 10-6 final-day lead. Stricker went 0-4, falling in what turned out to be the deciding match against Martin Kaymer. Furyk was 1-up with 2 holes to play, then bogeyed the final two to lose to Sergio Garcia in Sunday singles.

Had either American player just managed a half-point, then the final match that Tiger Woods more or less gave up on would have mattered. And things very well may have been different.

It's easy to say now that Mahan would have performed better, but in his 14 events after winning the Shell Houston Open, he missed three cuts and had just a single top-10. He also missed two cuts late in the selection process. There was some debate about him being left off the team, but it was hard to argue with the others chosen.

Stricker was picked for his partnership with Woods; Furyk for his experience. No question, they played poorly, but the U.S. should have won anyway. There were plenty of players who didn't get it done on that Sunday at Medinah, including U.S. major winners Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson.

Having a different selection system should not have mattered. Perhaps it will next year at Gleneagles, where Tom Watson will attempt to become the first U.S. captain to win on foreign soil since ... he did it in 1993 at the Belfry.

U.S. players will begin earning points at the Masters and will do so at all the majors this year before earnings points at all events for the 2013-14 season, when points at the majors will double. The team will be decided after the 2014 PGA Championship, with Tom Watson making his three selections several weeks later.

Bob Harig | email

ESPN Senior Writer

Gmac, restaurant owner

If Graeme McDowell is as successful at running a restaurant as he is at dealing with people, he'll do just fine for himself.

Last week he opened a restaurant in his adopted hometown of Orlando called Nona Blue, located just outside the golf community known as Lake Nona where he and several other tour pros live. The restaurant will be accessible to golf carts.

"It will be a nice hobby for me," McDowell said of the venture that is in partnership with Bistro Concepts LLC. "I will enjoy it."

McDowell said he envisions himself pouring beers for customers when his schedule allows, and while it is not a golf-themed restaurant, there will be mementos from some of his triumphs, including a replica of his 2010 U.S. Open trophy.

The menu appears to be filled with numerous choices, with 24 beers on tap. And in a nod to his Irish roots, there will be an all-day breakfast with an Irish theme as well as Shepherd's pie.

McDowell vows a call to the restaurant after every victory announcing a free round of drinks.

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