David Toms has been considered the frontrunner, because he fits the bill of what the PGA of America has looked for going on several decades now: A golfer who still plays on the PGA Tour, who is a major champion, and is in his 40s. Someone who has a pedigree but is near the end of his PGA Tour career, yet is still connected to and very familiar with the golfers he'll be leading at the Ryder Cup.
But this selection might - might - give us a break from that norm. Just a couple days ago, Tom Watson threw his hat into the ring, publicly (if gently) lobbying for the job. Watson is 63, but he does still play a bit with today's PGA Tour players (Masters, British Open, the occasional Tour event). He captained the U.S. side at the 1993 Ryder Cup. He's a legend, and unquestionably deserving of the honor, but the PGA of America hasn't selected a repeat captain since 1987. So the PGA would have to break another of its informal rules to pick Watson.
Then there's Fred Couples, who, although he plays more on the Champions Tour than the PGA Tour, does still play some on the younger circuit. He's wildly popular, both with players and fans. And he's been very successful as a Presidents Cup captain. But he's already committed to the 2013 Presidents Cup. Does that rule him out? If the PGA sticks to its recent standards for captains, Couples is already ruled out by other factors.
Perhaps the main reason some expect the PGA to deviate from its normal selection criteria is the groundswell of support that seems to have arisen around Larry Nelson. Nelson is one of the most overlooked players when it comes to golfers who are deserving of a Ryder Cup captaincy but never (not yet, anyway) got it. He's a multiple major winner who was 5-0 at the 1979 Ryder Cup and 9-3-1 overall in Ryder Cup matches. Nelson will be 67 at the time of the 2014 Ryder Cup and stopped playing PGA Tour events a long time ago. He violates every part of the PGA's selection criteria. But he's certainly deserving, and many prominent players (past and present) have lobbied for him.
I'm still betting on Toms, but it won't be a shock if the PGA finally veers away from its late-40s/still-playing-on-Tour model this time. Watch the 8:30 a.m. (ET) segment on Thursday's Today show for the reveal.
If it was up to me, I'd go with Watson (and Sandy Lyle for Team Europe, whose announcement comes later). Who would you select?
Update: Golf Digest's Tim Rosaforte is reporting that Tom Watson is the pick.