One year from now
U.S. Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger will make his captain's selections to
finalize the team that'll battle the Europeans at Valhalla in Louisville. Will
the U.S. win its first Ryder Cup since 1999? Not likely, at least if you
believe British oddsmakers, who put the U.S. chances of victory at
So what will it
take for the U.S. to turn around this dismal outlook over the next
12�months? Perhaps nothing will help, but I'm not that negative. Captain
Azinger can put some zing into his charges and whip the Yanks into shape, but
it won't be easy. He'll need to give Tiger & Co. a major dose of humble pie
to instill some desire and make them really care about winning. To do that, he
must radically change the team's modus operandi. Goodbye Richie Rich pampering,
hello Parris Island boot camp. Here's what Azinger should overhaul.
Deep-six the chartered jets and stretch limos. Give each player a $500 travel
allowance and tell him to book his own flight to Louisville. If somebody owns a
jet, he can't use it for the event. To get to the hotel, players should take a
taxi from the airport or use TARC (Transit Authority of River City), which has
nice air-conditioned buses that cost only $1.25 a ride, exact change required.
If a player is bringing his wife or significant other, throw in an another
Sayonara Four Seasons and any other $600-a-night joint. There's a dandy
Microtel Inn only 3.9�miles from Valhalla. At a rate of $79 a night, the
PGA of America could reserve all 99 rooms at the Microtel and spend less for
the entire week than it spent for one night in 2006, when the team stayed at
the K Club.
don't have much effect on the matches, but during the last few Cups the
Americans have looked worse than Woody Austin. That can't help team morale.
Azinger should go to a Ralph Lauren factory outlet and get chinos and polo
shirts (all solids--red, white or blue). That'll make the boys look good and
save Azinger from wasting time color-coordinating outerwear when he could be
contemplating pairing sheets.
dinner with the Ryder rookies in 2006 was a pathetic attempt at team bonding.
Azinger needs mandatory monthly team training sessions at Valhalla, and the
first session should take place next month. By then, everyone in contention to
make the team will be done for the season and sitting around counting his FedEx
Cup money. Players must pay their own way to the sessions and use Valhalla
caddies. If someone misses even one session, he's no longer eligible for the
New Rules To
reinforce the previous suggestion, and to give Azinger the authority he needs,
the PGA should make a rule that allows the captain to expel a member of the
team at any time and for any reason, no explanation necessary.
If these measures
don't help and the U.S. gets trounced again, there's only one hope: Merge the
Ryder Cup with the Presidents Cup, with Internationals joining forces with the
Americans. That team would definitely have a fighting chance.�
Golf Plus will
next appear in the Oct. 8 Sports Illustrated.