USA Needs Major Ryder Cup Changes
After Sunday’s miserable Ryder Cup performance by the Americans, there is no shortage of arrows being shot at captain Tom Watson and virtually every member of the losing team. It was an embarrassment, not just for American golf fans but Americans in general. The way I see it, whether it’s golf or basketball or soccer or team handball, if you’re playing for America it adds a whole other level to it. So here are a few ideas for changes that need to be made if the U.S. hopes to ever return to – not dominance of the Ryder Cup – just simple competitiveness.
Start with the Captain; the idea that it needs to be a former player with stellar credentials needs to be eliminated. When the U.S. basketball team plays in the Olympics or the recently concluded World Championship, they don’t pick Charles Barkley or Michael Jordan to coach the team, they go with Mike Krzyzewski. Why? BECAUSE HE’S A COACH. The Ryder Cup Captain has traditionally been a former player who was being “honored” with the role, kind of a PGA of America thank you for years of loyal service. And it worked for Ben Hogan and Arnold Palmer back in an era when America completely dominated golf. That’s not the case anymore. The American’s don’t need a figure head captain for the Ryder Cup, they need someone who knows how to handle players, plan strategy and make changes on the fly. It’s obvious that was not Tom Watson. Find the right guy and name him the Ryder Cup Captain, not for the next Ryder Cup but for the future two or three Ryder Cups if he’s successful. It’s a full time job, not a sometime job in between playing in tournaments. Maybe it’s Chris DeMarco or Paul Gydos, not a superstar, but just like the best coaches in other sports, a hardworking overachiever who knows players and how they work. Better yet, maybe it’s Butch Harmon or Hank Haney, and actual golf coach, not a player who’s still thinking about his own game until the 2 months before the competition.
Next, the PGA of America (very different than the PGA Tour) which is in charge of the Ryder Cup has to move the date of the Captain’s pick announcement back until the very end of the season. Not “near” the end as it is now, but the last possible moment to see who’s hot right before the Ryder Cup. This will be known as the “Billy Horschel Rule.” Horschel caught fire at the end of the season and won the BMW Championship, the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup Championship and finished second at the Deutsche Bank Championship. What that means is Horschel collected almost $14 million dollars in the last month of the season but didn’t get picked for the Ryder Cup. The points system in use is over a two year period and Horschel was at his best at the very end, not the previous 18 months, so Watson passed him up. Watson had to make his picks BEFORE Horschel won the BMW and the Tour Championship. Put the deadline off for another 10 days and maybe the hottest player in golf would have been on the team and made a difference.
Somehow American’s need to start thinking of the Ryder Cup as a Major. Rory McIlroy said he felt the same before Sunday’s final round as he did before the final rounds of the British Open and PGA Championships that he won. Rickie Fowler earlier said the Ryder Cup was an exhibition. Therein lies the difference.
Start paying the players…something. Right now they get nothing for playing, while the PGA of America makes millions. Athletes are motivated by money so pay them oh, $200,000 apiece for playing. Stop thinking that playing for “the honor of your country” is enough. It obviously isn’t.
The PGA of America can’t expect to keep doing things the same old way and think the results will change. That’s called insanity and that’s what American golf has been stuck in for the past 20 years.