A consequence of runaway victories in the Ryder Cup is that the post-mortem commences before the deceased has officially even hit the slab, and so it is with the European team that seems likely destined for defeat Sunday at Whistling Straits.Continue reading “Dodgy Decisions, Aging Stars And Poor Play Ensure Europe’s Ryder Cup Era Is Over.”
For all of the uncertainties surrounding the 43rd Ryder Cup — Will Brooks and Bryson bond amid a bruising battle, à la Rocky and Apollo Creed? Will an aggrieved Mrs. Reed use her J-Anon Twitter account to strafe those who forsook her man? — there is one guarantee: regardless of the outcome, Steve Stricker and Padraig Harrington are both out of a job when the closing ceremony concludes.
For one of them, it will be the price of failure. For the other, a bum’s rush despite a job well done.
Two men who will be out of a job after the Ryder Cup.Continue reading “Win Or Lose, Ryder Cup Captains Are Out Of A Job. It’s Time To Let Winners Stay.”
Schedules are sacrosanct in golf. Each season rotates around the immovable cornerstones of the calendar — springtime in Augusta, summer amid wintry weather on a British links — and each week is identified not by its dates but by its PGA Tour stop. Valspar last, Match Play this, Valero next. There are schedules within schedules, the roll call of tee times that lines up the action and the broadcast listings that bring it all home.
The abandonment of the Players Championship began (at least) 11 desolate weeks without Tour play, severed our tethers to the schedule, and left both fans and players adrift.
Many moons ago, I walked with Padraig Harrington during a practice round at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course. As he nipped a series of exquisite, one-bounce-and-check wedges, Harrington talked about the relativity of talent in golf. “You know,” he remarked, “the scratch player at your club is an awful lot closer to being you than he is to being me.”
Harrington wasn’t referencing the skill required to win major championships— at the time he was still four years from winning his first — nor even the talent needed to play on the PGA Tour. His point was more basic than that, putting in brutally realistic context the level of performance necessary to have even a faint hope of earning a living in the professional ranks.
That long-ago conversation came to mind this weekend as I waded through a Twitter thread initiated by Denis Pugh, the coach of Francesco Molinari. Pugh worked with Colin Montgomerie at his peak and with Seve Ballesteros. He is one of the more thoughtful men in golf and brooks no B.S. from any quarter, two traits that are assets everywhere except on social media.
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.