Ryder Cup – Picking Up The Pieces

I was wrong about:

Patrick Reed – His body may be soft but everything else is tight. Great focus and his background offers a clue; he had to Monday qualify early in his career and had to fight for everything to be the player he is today. His performance forged and solidified his place as one of the young guns in the world of golf. He may be our Poulter going forward.

Mickelson – He looked tired until the last day and his putter which is more important in the Ryder Cup than any competition looked all of his 44 years old on Friday. I think his comments on Tom Watson, although correct, were untimely and should have been kept private. I respect the fact that he cannot stand losing and unlike his public persona, Phil got ugly. How come he did not throw the captain under the bus in the other 8 losses he has had as a Ryder Cup participant? The fact is that Watson will not be our next captain in 2016 but here this Phil, you may not be in attendance either!

Poulter – He was muffled but it did not matter; Rose, McDowell, Stenson; there were more than enough players to fill the void created by Poulter coming down to earth. Europe dwarfed the Americans in birdies made.

I was right about:

Jimmy Walker was quiet, determined, and solid in all sessions. In today’s world where loud and splashy catches the attention, Walker is quiet but carries a very big stick. He has the goods.

Paul McGinley – My one minute encounter with him in England the previous week told me everything I needed to know about him; he was sharp, approachable, and extremely confident with just the right dose of wit and humor. Well done, Paul; you deserve all the kudos and if there was a Hall of Fame for Ryder Cup captains, you would go in on the first ballot.

Tom Watson – He did not adjust when things went wrong; he had no Plan B. I am not going to jump on the bandwagon and pound Tom; it was a good thought to make him the Captain based on his heritage across the pond and being the last captain to win in Europe.  But his approach lacked substance and it was no match for the juggernaut of the European team and the complexity of this event.

So, the question before us is simply how do we win the Ryder Cup?

This is not an easy answer and there is no quick fix and our culture of being number 1 no longer applies. American golf is a little like American mathematics but not as bad as American tennis; our best individual players when grouped in a team format are mediocre. Here are some thoughts and if you are out there, Zinger, let me know what you think.

Look at the Euro formula but we need our own plan.

The cultures are very different and our individualism is a negative in the Ryder Cup that needs to be deconstructed in a formal way. What does that mean?? It means that we need to build our own cultural approach to making this an important part of our golf heritage. Zinger did it with his approach of team leaders within pods but we need even more structural changes drawing from today’s technology to put in place a fresh plan for today’s modern player. Our approach needs to be taken down to the studs; we need more Rotella and statistical analysis to eradicate our past failures.

For example, a prototype model of the ideal Ryder Cupper should be theorized, here are a few possible characteristics:

  • Great putter
  • Cannot stand to lose
  • Emotional and energetic
  • Alternate shot specialists should be considered

Get the guys who cannot stand to lose

We saw it mostly in Reed, Spieth, and Walker. Not so much in Fowler who talked about the week being “a wonderful experience”. I think Bradley has it but he is simply too inconsistent. It has to be personal and positive “self-talk” after a losing week is a loser’s attitude.

We need training camp

Whoever gets elected captain needs to put a game plan in place with contingencies and the elected team needs to go away in seclusion to get the plan and bond with their teammates. The scenarios need to be played out of what happens when we are up and when we are down and chemistry of the players needs to be studied and formalized for the optimal parings.

Alter the selection process

Obviously, not being able to select Horshel was a disaster. I do not know if the rules are iron clad but teams should be able to substitute a player after the initial deadline; it can be called it the “Horschel Subsitution”.  This would seem awfully unfair to the player replaced but those are the breaks in professional sport where winning is the primary objective. And maybe the captain has to pass his picks through an executive board so personal bias and blind spots are eliminated by a broader and more objective standard so those who are best suited for the competition are elected. Simpson seemed to me to be a bias of Watson’s who could have been replaced by someone better.

These are just a few thoughts but I think this loss may finally spur us to make this as large a priority as the majors. But heck, let us not forget that Europe was and is better in the Ryder Cup and even if, we had a better plan and more solidarity, we would have lost. Well done, Europe; you deserve your place as the kings of the golfing world! But I think that we finally have had enough and I suspect that our next effort will be significantly better.











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