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The 19th Hole

Ryder Cup Team Starting To Take Shape

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Ryder Cup Team Starting To Take Shape

Unread postby swerb » Mon Jun 30, 2008 8:45 am

We've lost three straight, and five of six. Throw out The Miracle Comeback at Brookline in 1999, and we haven't beat the Euros since 1993.

Finally, at the spurring of Captain Paul Azinger, the American point system and selection process was tweaked to more of a "what have you done for me lately" system. In 2006, guys like JJ Henry, Vaughn Taylor, and Brett Wetterich made the team due to wins in the spring/early summer, then hung on to get the last couple automatic berths, even though they were playing like shit once September rolled around. We had no chance.

Also, 'Zinger gets four Captains picks now instead of the previous two. Top 8 points qualifiers make it instead of the top 10. Also, 'Zinger gets to make his picks two weeks later than normal to make sure he's really got the hottest golfers.

The changes should help. They can't hurt.

As dominant as he is in stroke play events, not having Tiger really doesn't worry me. He's 10-13-2 in his Ryder Cup career, and most of those ten wins are in the Sunday individual matches. He's been downright bad on Friday and Saturday at this event.

As it stands now, we got four guys locked in ...

Phil Mickelson
Stewart Cink
Kenny Perry
Jim Furyk

The last four auto qualifier spots right now are ...

Justin Leonard
Boo Weekley
Anthony Kim
Woody Austin

Spots about 5 through 15 are real tight though. Guys on the cusp right now are ...

Brandt Snedeker
Steve Stricker
DJ Trahan
Hunter Mahan
Zach Johnson
Jeff Quinney
Rocco Mediate
JB Holmes

But outside of his automatic qualifies, Zinger has said repeatedly he's not even going to look at points. He wants the hottest golfers on Sept 2 when he has to decide. He's said he'd take a guy from the Nationwide Tour if he's won 3 of four tourneys going in. He also said he's going to consult with his eight auto qualifiers. While having the 12 best will be the goal, Zinger also said he doesn't want any guys there that people on the team don't want to play with for personality reasons.

If its my call, today, I go with ...

Phil Mickelson
Stewart Cink
Kenny Perry
Jim Furyk
Justin Leonard
Boo Weekley
Anthony Kim
Woody Austin

Zach Johnson - One of the bright spots in '06. Great under pressure. Gritty.

Rocco Mediate - Infectous attitude. Hitting the ball as well as he has in his life. Just went through as grueling a pressure situation as you can individually, and thrived.

Bubba Watson - The big bomber is playing well, US always shys away from picking these types, the young guys that hit the ball three miles.

Chris DiMarco - Buried on the money and points lists because a shoulder surgery put him on the shelf, but DiMarco has been the heart and soul of past American Ryder and Presidents Cup teams. Starting to finally play like his old self again.

Also would consider Steve Stricker, Brandt Snedeker, Hunter Mahan, Jeff Quinney, Sean O'Hair, Ryan Moore, Scott Verplank, and David Toms.

One of my favorite sporting events of the year. Back on our soil at Valhalla, a Nicklaus design in Kentucky. Hopefully we can get it done this year.
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Unread postby pfischbach24 » Tue Jul 01, 2008 11:36 am

The Ryder Cup.

Perhaps the most tense and nerve-wracking week of golf (for the American side at least) even when paralleled to the U.S. Open and the Masters in some respects. It is difficult to fathom how bad the US team has been the last decade or so. To make a long story short, a plethora of talent fails to mesh together ultimately falling out of contention to the dreaded European team. The epitome of this formula has been witnessed the last two Ryder Cups in ’04 and ’06. Recently, playing at the home course of the European team has all but guaranteed the nonchalant Euros a victory. Even when the tournament is battled on U.S. soil, the United States players still find it difficult to surmise any kind of charge that results in a victory (minus Justin Leonard drilling a putt that could have stretched from Firestone C.C. to Big Met G.C.). Regardless, with a new sheriff, Paul Azinger, in town in and a new perspective involving the “tweaked” game plan, there is cause for some hope. Unfortunately, casual fans have these same hopes dashed when thoughts of a Tiger-less U.S. team are envisioned. With that said, what are the proper methods of evaluation that will ensure a victory in Kentucky? Several factors including standings over the season, what player is hot at the moment, and the captain's choice all placate sound reasoning. But what it ultimately comes down to is formulating a group of players that mix well and still are able to succeed individually for one long day of match play.

As of right now, I full-heartedly agree there are four locks in Phil Mickelson, Stewart Cink, Kenny Perry, and Jim Furyk. Furyk tends to thrive in the Ryder Cup atmosphere and may actually prosper in not having to play with his good friend Tiger Woods, who faired as a group a measly.500 winning percentage in ‘06. Cink and Perry are about as consistent as the US squad gets with Cink winning all but one match (2nd Foursome match on Day 2) at The K Club. Finally, Mickelson brings the much needed star-power to the team, though his team-play has been skeptical lately losing 3 out of 4 team matches two years ago; His singles match against Jose Maria Olazabal did not prove any better as he went on to lose as well. Regardless, he is as good American golfer as there is out there and it would be ludicrous not to include Lefty.

As for the rest of the available spots, it becomes a delicate balance of infusing experience along with young gun-slingers who take the idea of "monster drives" to a whole new level. As for a desire to involve as many "hot" players as possible, I could not believe in the philosophy more. I think it is an idea that has eluded, for the most part, Tom Lehman, Hal Sutton, and Curtis Strange, in the last three Ryder Cups. So as of right now, who would potentially propel the American team in addition to the automatic bids? In my own opinion they are as follows:

Chris DiMarco: I liken DiMarco to Colin Montgomerie for the Euros. Really never prevalent throughout the season anymore (minus the "05 Masters), but when it comes to Ryder Cup play, usually is able summon his inner competitiveness and symbolize what it truly means to play with passion for your country. He did not do well last year, mainly with Phil Mickelson, but I really believe he is at his finest when paired with David Toms.

David Toms: Toms has always been a consistent player after winning the PGA Championship in 2001. He has won the St. Jude Classic twice and always seems to thrive in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, a definite plus for Day 3 of the Ryder Cup. Not over-powering, but always dependable.

Rocco Mediate: Completely agree with Swerb on this one as he became infectious among fans at the U.S. Open and will bring the same aura to the normally uptight and nerve-ridden American team.

Hunter Mahan: One of the young guns that has recently come on strong for the PGA Tour. The one thing I thoroughly enjoy about Mahan's game is his ball striking. Seeing him up close and in person, it is clear this guy has a special talent and I think he will succeed being around all the experienced players.

A couple guys who, though they sit at the top of the standings currently, I simply cannot see drawing much success out from their play for the U.S. of A:

Justin Leonard, known for his dramatic putt in 1999, has incurred a rough road and typically does well in spurts on the Tour. Problem is, I simply do not see him stepping up to take on the challenge for the American team.

Anthony Kim, though a potential star for years to come on the PGA Tour, is simply to young and in-experienced. It is good to have a few of these kind of players on a Ryder Cup team, especially in the Americans' case, but I simply think there is not a lot to work with that would put a large amount of confidence come tee-off time in September. Overall, I think Kim would suffer the same fate that Vaughn Taylor and Brett Weterrich did, whose inexperience shined through in '06. I realize it is important to start younger players in gaining experience, but it is truly vital to have veterans for the team this year to give the best possible chance of turning things around for the Americans here on American soil.

Regardless, these two have managed to climb to the top of the standings and really will have their fate determined if they can manage to stick around for an entire season.

The players mentioned collectively along with several others give the US team the best possible chance, in my opinion, were the Ryder Cup to start next week. Obviously, there are still two majors left and several important tournaments, including the Bridgestone Invitational, that have yet to occur. It is always an exciting summer when there is a Ryder Cup lingering at the end of the season. Even though the breathtaking style of play Tiger Woods presents a challenge, golf fans still have a worthwhile summer ahead to process whom they feel would best represent the Red, White, and Blue.
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