By James Crook

158334911March 20 - United States Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson has elected to reduce his allocated selections for the 2014 tournament in Gleneagles, announcing that he will take the top nine American players from the Ryder Cup standings along with just three of his own selections, instead of the usual four.

Watson's decision to only make three of his own selections will give players more opportunity to earn their spot in the American  team through the US Ryder Cup points system, which rewards players with points according to prize money earned on the course. 

"Giving our players one more opportunity to earn a spot on merit, I believe, is the right thing to do," explained Watson.

"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."

Since the Ryder Cup became contested between Europe and the US, as opposed to Great Britain and Ireland against the US, in 1979, European captains have chosen two of their own players on ten occasions, including last year, and made three of their own selections on six occasions.

Captain's selections were not used within the US team until 1989, when captains chose two of their own players until 2006, with four players being chosen by the team captain at the last three Ryder Cups.

153124943US Captain Tom Watson has elected to make only three of his own picks for the 2014 Ryder Cup in an attempt to halt Europe's recent dominance

The US have not won the Ryder Cup on European soil since the last time Watson captained the side; two decades ago in 1993 when they took the famous cup home following a 15-13 victory at the Belfry in Warwickshire, England.

The Europeans have dominated the biennial tournament since, however.

The US have won the Ryder Cup just twice, in 1998 and 2008, since Watson's last spell as captain.

Europe retained the trophy last year, pulling off the "Miracle of Medinah" in Ohio during one of the most spectacular weekends of golf the world has ever seen, coming back from 10-4 down with just two four-ball matches and 12 singles ties to play to win 14 ½ to 13 ½.

"Tom is committed to do everything in his power to win the Ryder Cup," said PGA of America President Ted Bishop. 

"His evaluation and research of the US qualifying system is just another example of his dedication to identify the best players for the 2014 United States Ryder Cup Team," 

Watson will make his three selections for the 40th Ryder Cup in September 2014 prior to the tournament, which will take place at Gleneagles in Scotland from September 26 until 28 next year.

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Related stories: 
January 2013:
Irishman McGinley named as Europe Ryder Cup captain for 2014
November 2011: Dates for 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles announced
February 2011: Logo launch spurs on Scottish efforts to produce "best ever" Ryder Cup in 2014