2006 USA Ryder Cup Team: Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda
It’s all spilt milk now but since we have properly praised the European Ryder Cup team for their magnificent performance and pointed out the weakest performers from the US team, let’s look at what would, could or should be done to enhance US chances in the future.
COPY EUROPEAN SELECTION CRITERIA A no-brainer here. After the 2004 debacle at Oak Hill, the idiots at The PGA of America realized that the Euros had figured out how to select the hottest team possible, so they changed their qualification system. While it was a move in the proper direction, it is still just plain dumb. Why only give credit to top-10 finishes, especially when 30-50 percent of them will not be American? Obviously an 11th place finish in ANY tournament is better than a missed cut. Use the damn money list which is already heavily weighted towards top finishes. And for God’s sake, stop selecting the team 2 weeks before the Euros do. The longer you wait, OBVIOUSLY, the better the chance to have the hottest players qualify. Waiting two more weeks this year would have allowed hot golfers like Steve Stricker, Shaun Micheel, Lucas Glover and Sean O’Hair to make the team instead of some of the other guys who weren’t even making cuts. Again, it’s the knuckleheads at the PGA that want to make the PGA Championship have even more significance than it does by being the final qualifying event. How ignorant is that?
COPY EUROPEAN COURSE SELECTION Another no-brainer. The Euros figured out 25 years ago that they would have a distinct advantage if they play the Ryder Cup on courses that hold European Tour events. So they quit using the links courses of the Open Championship Rota that had held the Ryder Cup in the 60’s and 70’s. More than anything, this explains the European advantage in holing putts. There were no shocked reactions on European faces to the way putts were breaking. It also helps in shot selection to have played 20-30 rounds under varying weather and wind conditions. If the Americans really want to get enhance their edge in local knowledge, they should pick a course with Bermuda grass greens – like Doral – or poa annua greens – like Pebble Beach. This familiarity would make the biggest difference to the lower ranked players. But no, the brainiacs at the PGA want to squeeze every dollar they can out of this thing, so they set up sweetheart deals with courses that are used only for the occasional Major tournament, nullifying any advantage that could be had.
COPY EUROPEAN TWOSOME SELECTIONS The final no-brainer. European team captains are not afraid to go with the hot golfers and sit down superstars. Euro Captain Ian Woosnam did not hesitate to sit down Luke Donald twice, who happens to be the second highest ranked European player in the world. The only criticism that could be leveled at U.S. skipper Tom Lehman – and it is a minor criticism - is that he did not recognize who was hot and who was not. Some of that was due to the timing of making pairs for afternoon matches combined with when certain players (J.J. Henry especially) started doing great things. At the very minimum, after going 0-2-1 Chris DiMarco and Phil Mickelson should have sat out the afternoon foursome match on Saturday while trying to find some form on the practice range for singles on Sunday. Why not keep the winning pair of Zach Johnson and Scott Verplank out there? And what is this nonsense that Tiger Woods can only play with Jim Furyk? It makes perfect sense that they play foursomes together if they play so similarly, but that has not one damn thing to do with fourballs when they each play their own ball. Split them up and enhance two teams instead of having just one superstar team.
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