Saturday, August 16, 2008

Azinger's Ryder Cup Dilemma

How about Paul Azinger's conundrum, huh? Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to escape from a 5 out of 6 losing streak, including 18 1/2 to 9 1/2 thrashings in the last two. Once at home, once on the road. Oh, did I mention that you have to do it without your best player?

From that standpoint I suppose Zinger has nowhere to go but up. The way I see it the Euros have just been way overdue in squaring up what had historically been a tremendous mismatch. From 1927 to 1983 the United States' Ryder Cup record was 21-3-1. Those were the years you wanted to be a captain. Since 1983 the Euros are 7-3-1. They could win 14 straight times and the series would be even. The prevailing chatter would lead you to believe we have no business playing in this thing. Reality says we still own it, 24-10-2. The fact is golf always has been, and will be, an unpredictable endeavor. That's how guys can shoot 64 one day and 74 the next. Throw the team out there, wish them some luck, and sit back and see what unfolds. I don't buy the "closeness" as a team theory. Nobody marveled at our closeness as a team for the first 25 matches. I don't buy the "good" or "bad" pairings theory either. The example of this being the infamous Mickelson/Woods pairing. You put Mickelson and Woods together 100 times and they beat your guys 75% of the time. The fact that they didn't then is irrelevant. It's still an individual sport. Each guy hits his own shot. Sergio doesn't pass his ball to Monty. Woods can't get an assist if Furyk makes a putt. I also don't buy the Ryder Cup "pressure" theory. Tell me how players that stood up to the rigors of major championships suddenly get weak kneed in a team event? Doesn't happen. It's only a justification if they lose.

Only 8 things are certain about the 2008 US Ryder Cup squad. Mickelson, Cink, Perry, Furyk, Kim, Leonard, Curtis, and Weekly will be suiting up. In the coming two weeks we'll observe and comment on captain Zinger's four remaining picks. We'll scour the Euros as well and see if we can make sense of this year's rendition of this storied event. Then we'll throw it all against the wall and enjoy greatly seeing what sticks.

Til' next,

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