Repeat after me, golf fans: “There are no magic Captains. There are no magic pairings.”
No. Magic. Captains.
It’s funny how nobody wanted to write the following headline: “Heavily favored Europeans, win comfortably. As expected…”
But that’s exactly what happened. In fact not only did 16.5-11.5 “sound about right” to me before these matches began – we were down three very good auto-qualifiers due to injury and (ahem) “leave of absence” – but for a few “bad beat” matches that took a half point or full point off our side would have made it tighter than your prom night tuxedo from high school.
But the matches fell where they did, so the better team won, and…. NOW WHAT IN THE HELL IS EVERYBODY ALL WORKED UP ABOUT… NOW???
Oh, yeah. Phil.
“Pod-boy.” Got it. Glad he remembers the glory of 2008. As if that matters now.
Credit Tom Watson for taking Phil’s Monday Morning Quarterbacking on the dais in stride – especially since he couldn’t even wait until the morning to deliver it. But what Watson should have said is this: “I’m only here because you guys choked last time.”
No truer statement could have been made, and it would have reminded the players why there is so much noise right now. Had the Yanks simply not choked at Medinah (or if we weren’t so quick to provide police escorts to Euro Teamers who can’t tell time) then we’d be in a pretty stable “home and home” mode of winners for the past 8 years.
But no. Last year’s choke DEMANDED ACTION from those who “care!”
So they reached back to get that “Magic Captain” to get the job done. It was a sub-prime idea at best, and events of the week proved that truth in many ways at Gleneagles. Too old, too aloof, too unprepared for on-the-fly adjustments… and yeah… maybe too un-responsive to player input.
But let’s get back to Phil for a moment, shall we? When has THIS GUY ever been “Mr. Clutch” at the Ryder Cup? The only Phil highlights I’ve seen for 10 years, involve him doffing his hat and shaking hands with winning Euros, his disheveled mop of vain anti-baldness-hair flopping around like a tribute to Donald Trump.
Last year at Medinah, Phil was getting buried by Justin Rose bombs, and could only offer up a goofy-faced grin and a “thumbs up.” He lost on Sunday. It wasn’t the Captain’s fault. And his buddy Keegan couldn’t even beat a guy who showed up 5 mins before his tee time. Again: not on the Captain.
This is the same guy who pulled out of the FedEx Cup playoffs this month after eating dinner at Cherry Hills, because he wasn’t going to finish high enough to make the Final at East Lake. All of the golf fans in the Rockies who haven’t seen Phil since the days of The International and had bought tickets for the weekend: “Sorry, suckers.”
This is the same guy who once bitched about the FedEx Cup first prize of $10 million being a mere … sniff… annuity. Sure, the Tour eventually caved, fixing a non-existent problem for Phil. He never won it.
So lets walk backward through the Ryder Cup years, skipping last year’s debacle since it’s already been covered here.
The 2010 Ryder Cup at Wales was a very respectable 14.5-13.5 nailbiter. The USA didn’t need the “pod system” that time. They needed a better passcode on Tiger’s cell phone that year, and rainsuits that didn’t leak. Hunter Mahan’s chili-dip didn’t help either.
Of course, it would have also helped if our BEST PLAYER that year – World #2 Phil Mickelson, ever heard of him? – managed to score a mere 1/2 point in partners play.
Phil lost all three of those, 3&2, 3&2, and 2&1. At least he beat the world’s #42, rookie Peter Hansen in singles.
In 2006, Mickelson was a complete FISH at the Ryder Cup at the K-Club, looking at least 30 pounds overweight. He played all five sessions. Horribly. He was 0-4-1.
His memories of 2008 are certainly not what I recall, nor what the match results sheet show. At Valhallah, the completely energized, fully bought-in and pod-bonded Mickelson played all 5 sessions.
He won one match. And it wasn’t even in singles.
With Tiger at home nursing injuries, guess who was our BEST player that year? Right.
To have Phil Mickelson complain about tactical errors which might have cost the US the cup, would be like Francesco Schettino blaming Apple Maps for bad directions.
Besides, aren’t we talking about the same Phil Mickelson who used the Ryder Cup in 2004 to showcase his new Calloway contract with un-tested new clubs, and went off-property for a Tuesday practice round at a course where exactly ZERO points would be available that week?
Oh. Same guy? Thought so.
It’s a shame – and a handicap to the US – that two guys who SHOULD be monsters in this event are probably liabilities. Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson are dominant-long, go-for-broke, birdie and eagle machines. Perfect for match play, right?
Well, too bad one is allegedly a coke-head and a tour homewrecker. The other is maybe the most mentally fragile 2-time major winner ever. A guy who declares himself out for the US Open on Tuesday because he doesn’t like the course, or a helpless victim of rain on his clubface at the PGA.
We’re just gonna have to manage those two guys in the Ryder Cup going forward the best we can. Maybe play ’em together and write off the point.
Well, the good news is, Phil’s Ryder Cup days are numbered. The new breed is coming, and not a moment too soon – Speith, Fowler, Reid, Horschel and others.
Let’s just not over-react to Gleneagles, okay? I’ve got the formula for winning this event, and I’ll even give it away for free.
1. Get better players.
2. Play guys who won’t quit.
You are welcome, PGA of America. My shirt size is an XL.
Czabe, don’t shoot the mailman. While I agree smartest-guy-in-the-room Mickelson should have done this behind the scenes, he is nontheless correct. What he did was very calculated and aimed at the PGA of America. Fact is, the Euros have a winning system that was born of experience. They’ve figured out some things when they were clawing to have a chance in the 80s. The only time they ignored their tried and true ways was during arrogant Faldo’s captaincy, oddly enough, when Azinger was doing a virtual imitation of their system. And he did it with SIX rookies, no Tiger! (As he has said, the Euros have a bit of the pods in a natural way – nationality.) But forget the pods. The bigger question is why hasn’t the PGA of America seen the value of continuity of leadership. The Euro players know what’s coming and all buy in. They even have a say in who the Captain is! Even former Euro official Ken Schofield is talking about the disconnect between the PGA Tour and the PGA of America. The Euro version of those orgs have partnered to give their side the best chance because WINNING is very important to them. Over here, the stuffed shirts like Ted Bishop are afraid of such an arrangement. I can only speculate that its about money, power or both.
I have to agree with Mark. While Phil might not have been the best person to deliver the message, his message wasn’t inaccurate.
While a different captain wouldn’t have changed the outcome, it didn’t make the poor decisions of Watson any more justified.
– Captain’s picks: Mahan and Keegan made sense at the time. Simpson made no sense, he had a bad year and wasn’t in form. Kirk or Todd were both more logical selections, just lesser known names.
– Benching Phil (& Keegan): The only reason you picked Keegan was to play with Phil then you benched him anyway.
– Saying that Bubba was one of your horses: What? As you correctly mentioned, this is not a guy to put pressure upon. Not too mention the fact that many articles have been written about how he isn’t really liked by his peers.
– Benching Reed and Spieth: Ride that momentum in day one, then assess how to handle Saturday after the match.
I don’t think Azinger as captain would have lead to victory, but Watson was a terrible choice and a terrible leader. Phil just happened to be the guy who called him on it. Who else was going to?
Agree with you 100 percent, Czabe. Watson wasn’t a great captain, but Mickelson of all people making an issue of it is hilarious. The 2004 Ryder Cup where he didn’t practice with his team, changed clubs and didn’t gel with Tiger Woods made him an all-time Ryder Cup goat for me.
Czabe-I don’t think I have ever read a more dead-on summarization of the recent US Ryder Cup History. You hit this one out of the park! Mickelson, is and has always been the biggest phony the PGA Tour has on its roster. While I don’t think Watson made all the right moves, the bottom line is they lost to a far superior team that knows how to compete, play together and come up big when the pressure is on. Mickelson and several others are softer than Charmin and simply lack the “killer instinct” that many of the Euros have. Give me Rose, Henrik, Rory, Poults, G-Mac any day of the week with one match to win with my life on the line. The Young Bucks (Spieth, Rickie, Reed, Billy Ho) here in the US hopefully will change things in years to come. Well done in your review.
When I first heard Phil’s remark I thought it was out of line but quick moved on. Now having seen the evidence of his piss poor play and being reminded of his club switch the week before I am ready to throw a pie in Phil’s face. He can go away and never pay a Ryder Cup again and take bitchy Eldrick who never seemed to buy in either.
Phil sits and talks about what worked in 08 and being vested in each other, but this is also the same guy that skipped taking the team flight this year and came by himself. So 11 team members fly together and Fake Phil does his own thing. Second guessing captains is always easy afterwards. Should Reed and Spieth have played Friday afternoon, sure. But I also have no problem having Keegan and Phil ride the pine all day Saturday. Their play was poor in both matches on Friday and only beat Sergio and Rory because those two played even worse. If Davis Love hadn’t been scared to bench Woods and Stricker in ’12 then maybe we would have had the cup then. Enough catering to these ego’s. Europe understands that and they get everyone to contribute. In the end though, no captain or system can overcome Europe having been 110 under par and the US only being 78 under. At the end of the day you have to put the ball in the hole.
I agree with Phil and wish he would have just waited a few days to publicly state the obvious. Phil’s comments didn’t say “If we went to the POD, I would have a better chance to win” we said “it gives OUR TEAM a better chance”, big difference. I know it’s easy being the Monday morning QB but it seems that our Captains have been making bad/wrong decision in the most recent matches. I still can’t comprehend sitting HOT players, Patrick and Jordan should have played 5 matches and sitting them on Friday was costly. I would have sent them out first Friday afternoon to set the tone. Bubba and Webb was the worse selection Tommy boy could have made. We all know Bubba needs someone firey to feed off of and Simpson was about as jacked up as a koala on his birthday. I would have rather seen a Mahan or even split up the hot hand and put Reed with Bubba and Jordan with Simpson. We would have had a much better chance. This sitting so they can rest is absolute BS, we sat Phil and Keegan 2 years and it cost us. Sitting the HOT hand this year may have also cost us. When’s the last time you saw a European captain sit a team that just waxed the Americans 5&4, you haven’t because they are smarter than that. How do you get tired playing on 12-13 holes. If you can’t play 5 matches in the 3 day period then you don’t need to be on the team. Here’s what I would do. I would tell the first 8 going out, “if you win your match you are staying out there. I know they have to turn the matches in before some are done and that is something I would fight to change. If we go 4-0 in the morning then those same 8 go back out and so on. If you lose than you could be done until the singles. MAKE THEM EARN IT…..
who really cares anyway?