Monday, September 25, 2006

Time to change US Ryder Cup selection

Bottom line: the final result of the Ryder Cup matches is not all that important, even if you are an avid golfer and a flag waving American, which I am. It's just a game, and apparently, most of the members of Team USA (or whatever you want to call it) approached it just that way: not important. They might have looked serious and interested on the ridiculous tape delay coverage of the first two days and, the live broadcast of the final round singles competition on Sunday but the final results were laughable.

It's not a life or death situation to those millionaires citizens of the United States who made up the 2006 team. It's just a game. However, golfers like to watch good golf, and this year, for us to do that, we had to concentrate primarily on the European team. The final tally points to that, but, if you watched just a little of the matches held last Friday-Sunday, you saw the Euros with a little more bounce in their steps and a little more fun in their game.

I could hash and re-hash the matches but there's no need for that. What I'd like to propose is a new selection system for assembling the Yankee contingent, one that gives more of the selection process to the Captain and his assistants but requires the players to practice the format as part of the selection process.

Right off the bat, with the exception of Johnny Miller, there are few possible captains who would want to select all 12 members for fear of losing many friends along the way. Right now, the captain picks two from less than two handfuls of possibilities, and those not chosen probably understand why they were left off the team. Miller, I think, needs to be captain for life, because he knows more about the game and more about the players that anyone on this planet and all of the Universe. If you don't believe me, just ask Miller. He'll tell you the same. Unfortunately, I think, if Miller had his way, he would try to get dual citizenship for several Euros and Aussies and New Zealanders and Africans so he could complete the squad with his top choices.

Instead of having a two-year-points-earned-in-tournaments-qualifying system, I'd like to see a squad of 32 players selected right now. Over the next two years, any of the 32 could be dropped from active status and players from outside the original 32 could be added. But by six months to the day prior the competition, the 32 shall be chosen. From that point until two weeks prior to the Ryder Cup, those 32 players will have to practice as a team at least once every two weeks but only in Ryder Cup style practices, using the various competition methods in the actual Ryder Cup. Practice would include two days of four ball and two days of foursomes and four days of singles matches, at a minimum.

During the practice rounds, every player would be available to help another player, even if on the opposing practice team. They would be able to discuss strategy, putting, club selection, dinner reservations and family stuff. The captain and several assistants would watch, take notes, and give pointers when necessary. Each night, the captain and assistants would discuss each player in an effort to assemble the very best TEAM.

Now, if the PGA and the players want to have any automatic qualifiers, that's fine, but no more than four, maybe six, but if the captain has good reason to leave off one of the automatic qualifiers, the captain would make his case to a PGA Ryder Cup committee which would rule either in favor of the automatic qualifier or the captain.

The final results would be a team that's a team, one that knows how to compete in Ryder Cup competition. I contend that players such as Phil Mickelson is not a good match play competitor. He might have been at one time, but he's more of a stroke play, four-round grinding competitor. The final hole of the US Open is a prime example. His wild tee shot and subsequent attempts to get the ball in the hole is typical of stroke competition. If he had played that hole as if it were match play, knowing a four would win and a five would tie, he would have hit four-wood off the tee and played to the middle of the green. Phil, though, was trying to post a number, not win a hole. In the Ryder Cup, I would rather have had a poor playing Davis Love III than Mickelson.

In this year's Cup, Tiger Woods scored three points, more than any other US player. Stewart Cink, a captain's pick, had 2.5 points. All other Americans had less than 2.5 points. Seven Euros congtributed 2.5 points or more out of a possible five. No one contributed five points, but three Euros contributed all they could. For a review of the points earned by the US and the Euros, go to the
Ryder Cup web site.

My suggestion can use some tweaking, but if the Ryder Cup is important to the PGA, if it is important to the PGA to win, then the PGA needs to come up with a way to select a better team, and not to base the selection on the most recent playing abilities or a hot streak from a year earlier that stood during the second year of qualifying. Pros are known to get hot and rattle off a few hot rounds at just the right time, but that doesn't make them the best Ryder Cup players.

Bottom line: It's really not that important, but if you want a good team, let's get serious about the selection process.

JUST WONDERING: If the US broadcasts on Friday and Saturday were tape delay, then if an announcer, just before showing a shot or putt, said, "Just moments ago..." then were we watching a tape delay of a tape delay? Next time it's in Europe or Ireland or Great Britain, show the afternoon matches live, tell us what happened in the morning matches, and then show us highlights of the morning matches.

What do you think. Leave your comment here.

1 comment:

  1. I hate to say it but we are just not that good. We don't have any players on this side of the pond that care about the game itself. With the exception of one player, and he really doesn't think the Ryder Cup makes him great, all the rest care more about money than the game of golf. The old saying "No Guts, No Glory" sure does fit this situation. But then again we do live in a "Show me the Money" world on the American PGA Tour.


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