The Ryder Cup Buddy System Rides Again

The criteria for selecting U.S. Ryder Cup captains often has seemed to magnify qualities that are barely relevant to the task, emphasizing personal achievements of an individual over personality attributes that might galvanize a team.

Twenty-eight men have led America into competition since Walter Hagen commanded the first team in Massachusetts in 1927. Every single one of those 28 captains won a major championship during his career. A winning record as a Ryder Cup player once mattered too, but that was when points were easier to come by for Americans. It’s not so important these days since the U.S. record over the last three decades has impoverished the résumés of most candidates for the captaincy.

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Steve Stricker, the presumptive Ryder Cup skipper, with Tiger Woods.

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Buddy System Of Choosing Ryder Cup Captains Bad For U.S. Business

American victories in the Ryder Cup, rare as they are, seldom get the recognition they deserve. There’s always some celebratory chest thumping, of course, but one can only cheer so much when you’ve been told that defeating Europe should be a foregone conclusion anyway.

When the champagne is drained, the trophy is largely forgotten for two years. But on the more regular occasions of an American loss, those two years are filled with autopsies and blame games. The aftermath of 2018 will be no different.

Paris will not have witnessed so many disheartened elite leaving town since the Bastille was stormed.

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Mickelson Should Be Odd Man Out on Ryder Cup Picks

It’s testament to the enduring appeal of past glories that the two men long considered locks as captain’s picks for the U.S. Ryder Cup team have combined for one victory over the last five years.

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are the most accomplished and durable stars of their generation. It’s been 25 years since America fielded a team that did not include at least one of them, which has rendered unthinkable for many fans the notion of a team without them, if they’re healthy.

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Injuries caused Woods to miss three Ryder Cups over the last decade, and when he began his comeback seven months ago he seemed an unlikely bet to be playing this year in Paris. But when Jim Furyk announces his first three captain’s picks on Sept. 4 (the final one comes Sept. 10), Woods will be the most defensible name read aloud.

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