By Mark Lamport-Stokes
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The 2014 Ryder Cup may be a distant 16 months away but United States captain Tom Watson has already identified three winning qualities he needs in his 12-man team to take on holders Europe in Scotland.
Above all, Watson wants his players to have a 'never-say-die' attitude, the ability to thrive under pressure and also to cope well in adverse weather conditions.
"Basically, it comes down to three things and these three things should come as no surprise," Watson wrote in the first installment of his captain's blog, posted on Friday on the official Ryder Cup website (www.rydercup.com).
"1. I'm looking at players who have a lot of heart. 2. I'm looking at a player who can hold or even increase his lead under pressure.
"3. I'm looking for a player who can play well in bad conditions. That last one should be obvious, because those are likely to be the type of conditions we'll face in Scotland."
Nine players will automatically qualify via the U.S. points standings for the September 26-28 matches at Gleneagles and Watson will then round out his team with three wildcard picks, to be announced earlier that month.
Though the U.S. points system is barely underway, Watson says he has already spent a great deal of time over the last few months laying the foundation to his Ryder Cup preparations.
"Several processes have been put in place," added Watson, who will be 65 when the matches are played at Gleneagles in Scotland, making him the oldest captain in Ryder Cup history.
"While I haven't made any final decisions, I've given a lot of thought to the people I'll use as assistant captains, caddie liaisons and other people I'll entrust with the workings of the Ryder Cup. The process is ongoing.
"I'm formulating a list of names and asking questions about certain people privately. That goes part and parcel with getting to know the players and their abilities better. It's an observational process that I'll be going through with help from others."
Watson, who led the U.S. to victory in 1993 in his previous stint as Ryder Cup captain, said he was thirsty for as much inside information as possible on his likely players at Gleneagles.
"That's the process," he said. "That's what I'm going through. This is a different way of being involved with golf than what I've been used to for many years.
"Now, I'm actively involved in paying attention to the outcome at tournaments for players other than myself."
A winner of eight majors, including five British Opens, Watson is the seventh man to be named U.S. captain on more than one occasion. The last was Jack Nicklaus in 1987.
Americans are hoping the appointment of Watson will end a run of seven losses against Europe in the last nine editions of the biennial competition.
Their most recent defeat came in Chicago last year when the U.S. threw away a commanding four-point lead heading into the final day in what became known as the 'Meltdown at Medinah.'
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Frank Pingue)