The Joy of golf: US stars should decide Ryder Cup captaincy

Joy Chakravarty 16:15 16/10/2014
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Valuable experience: Tiger Woods has the experience and insight to help choose the next American Ryder Cup captain.

 The 11-member task force set up by the PGA of Amer­ica to revamp the way they approach the Ryder Cup is a step in the right direction and should help stop the rot.

There is no doubting the fact that one of America’s biggest roadblocks in the last 20 years has been the fact that captains and vice-captains are chosen without much input from those who are close to the action day in and day out.

Instead of the PGA of America executives making the decision and forcing it upon the players, it would be much better if the golfers took the decision themselves. The European system over the years has consist­ently churned out one good captain after another, and that is because the players know what is best for them.

Team USA will also have to ensure that they choose a captain in the age bracket of mid 40s to early 50s, and someone who spends a decent amount of time on the main tour.

There has been some criticism of the decision to involve Tiger Woods, with some experts believ­ing that the former world No1 does not mix much with most players on the Tour, and is more focused on his own individual career.

However, I feel it would have been ridiculous if Woods, and for that matter Phil Mickelson, wasn’t a part of it. From my own personal interactions with him in the past, I know that the 14-time major cham­pion is very clued in as to what his fellow competitors are up to on the PGA Tour, as well as what’s happen­ing on the other Tours.

And I also believe that not many American captains have been able to turn Woods into their biggest weapon. One of the reasons could be that most previous skippers did not make enough effort to get close to him in the run-up to the tourna­ment. The new captain will have to work on Woods the way Paul McGinley broke down the wall that Victor Dubuisson had built around himself this year.

Woods and Mickelson, and I would also add Jim Furyk to that list, have to be used much better. And that process does not start on the Monday of the Ryder Cup. The six months leading up to the tourna­ment is when a captain should get the most out of these veterans.

A start has been made, and if Woods and Mickelson are going to be a part of the committee that chooses the captain, they will surely be in better shape than ever before in the 2016 Ryder Cup.

Dawson’s everlasting legacy 

Martin Slumbers will take over from Peter Dawson as the new Chief Executive of the R&A, and also as Secretary of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.
Dawson led the body that governs the game along with the United States Golf Association for nearly 16 years, and has been involved in some of the most defining moments for the game in that period.

The 54-year-old Slumbers is a passionate golfer and a chartered accountant by profession and has worked previously with Price Waterhouse, Salomon Brothers International and Deutsche Bank.

And while everyone agrees that Slumbers is the right man for the post, it will be difficult for him to fill the mighty shoes of the charismatic Dawson.

In his years with the R&A, Dawson’s biggest achievement would perhaps be the acceptance of golf back in the Olympics, but there were various other issues in which his leadership skills played a major role.

It started with the Coefficient of Restitution (COR) limitation with the drivers, and continued with several equipment related issues like grooves in the wedges and the ban on anchored putting.

Dawson also played a major part in the process of the R&A allowing women to become members, but the one decision of his that will be talked about for a long time was to allow the redesigning of the Old Course at St Andrews.

Once in a blue Moon 

If you ask any professional golfer what the key is to winning golf tournaments, he is sure to tell you it is making the putts. Most players expect to hole 100 per cent putts inside five feet, a very high percentage of putts in the range of five to 10 feet, nearly 50 per cent of the putts from 10 to 15 feet, and most importantly, a few of the long putts outside 15 feet.

But what happened with Sang-Moon Bae at the Open, the season-opener for the 2014-15 PGA Tour, was an extremely rare case indeed. 

Bae did not make one putt of more than 15 feet during the four rounds and his longest was from 14 feet 6 inches.

Since the time the PGA Tour started keeping records, Bae is only the fourth player to achieve such a feat – after Phil Mickelson in the 2007 Deutsche Bank Championship, Steve Stricker in The Barclays the same year and Sean O’Hair at the 2009 Wells Fargo Championship.

Tweet of the Week

“What a massive pat on the back & confidence booster it is for Europe that team USA needs to create a Ryder Cup task force!!!”
– Lee Westwood after the announcement of the formation of the task force by PGA of America

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