Suffering their eighth defeat in ten Ryder Cups, the United States are once again looking for answers as to why they can’t win this competition. Here’s Bryce Ritchie’s take on why the USA keep losing the biggest competition in golf.
1 They make bad vice-captain choices
Ray Floyd was a fierce competitor – we were told this all week, of course – and he was meant to get this US side fired up. At Gleneagles, though, the 72-year-old looked like an old man dressed for a trip to space. He nearly had to ask someone on a tee box to open a bottle of water for him as his hands were cold. That's not intimidating.
Remember Hal Sutton? He had Jackie Burke, aged 81, as his VC… his side promptly fell to the heaviest defeat in Ryder Cup history (18.5 – 9.5) back in 2004.
Additionally, previous captains have all brought religion to the team room. Tom Lehman, in 2006, reportedly gave all the players a special wooden carving that was imprinted with scriptures from the Bible. They also flew to Ireland with a chaplain on board.
McGinley had two recently successful Ryder Cup captains on his team in Sam Torrance and Jose Maria Olazabal this week. Watson should have hired Paul Azinger, the next best thing.
2 The Ryder Cup is no place for war memories
The US side are obsessed with bringing war to the table. Corey Pavin, in 2010, hired Major Dan Rooney, a US fighter pilot, to speak to his players. Pavin said his reasons were to give the players a “little more awareness of what’s happening around the world, what’s going on and how, in a military sense, team unit and accountability to each other is very important.”
Yes, he actually said that.
McGinley brought in Sir Alex Ferguson – one of British sport’s biggest figures. He spoke for 30 minutes. “He was picked as a guy who I've obviously always respected, we all do as sports people, for what he's achieved,” McGinley said.
Who did Tom Watson look to for motivational guidance? Two war veterans who lost limbs in Iraq.
Once the US realise that war and sport don’t mix, they might see the Ryder Cup in a different light.
3 Culturally, they’re just different
On the Friday morning at Gleneagles, the Europeans back-slapped, hugged and high-fived their way through the opening fourball tee-shots. In contrast, the US side walked sheepishly onto the tee, with most of their vice-captains taking a back seat in front of a partisan home crowd. There was far less interaction between the US players, and it showed. If there had been a massive shell on the first tee, I suspect Jimmy Walker would have happily climbed inside it. They need to show that they want to win. Basically, they need 12 Patrick Reeds.
4 Their problem players keep qualifying
Jim Furyk has had 16 different partners in the Ryder Cup, a record on either side. In 33 Ryder Cup matches, Furyk has lost 20 times.
Somebody at the PGA of America needs to figure out how to fudge the qualifying criteria so that Furyk can’t get in. Poor bloke must dread Ryder Cup week.
5 The PGA of America is too involved
PGA of America president Ted Bishop sat in on Tom Watson’s press conference on more than one occasion this week. Babysitting? Maybe. It looked like he was overly involved and had too much interaction with the US captain. Bishop is not in charge and Watson should have turned his ear the other way.
Phil Weaver, Bishop’s opposite number, spoke at the Opening Ceremony and was hardly seen again. He knew who was boss this week.
6 They lack inspiration
Some of their experienced players aren’t exactly inspirational figures. Steve Stricker, one of Watson’s VCs this week, and Furyk don’t exactly let sparks fly when they talk. There’s too many middle-America bores and not enough nutty young crazies like Anthony Kim and Rickie Fowler. When was the last time Kim played a Ryder Cup? Ah yes, ’08.
7 Michael Jordan
He’s been in amongst the US Ryder Cup team room since 1997. Since then they’ve lost A LOT of Ryder Cups. Somebody needs to pluck up the courage to tell this US sporting icon ‘Thanks, but no thanks’. Just do it, already.
8 They save their worst golf for the Ryder Cup
Hunter Mahan hit some abysmal shots under pressure at Gleneagles. Only he knows why. Rickie Fowler duffed a simple greenside chip for no real reason. Bubba was poor when his captain needed him to be sparkling. The US side seem to falter when they really shouldn’t. Why do they do this? Probably because someone like Sir Alex Ferguson didn’t give them an ear bashing the night before about how to deal with pressure when it matters. Or maybe Jordan's rubbish at his job.
9 They won’t change for one week
The Europeans are quite happy to be outside their normal comfort zone for the week. They even choose not to wear hats. They’re relaxed. They enjoy the week. Jim Furyk – him again, sorry – looked as though he was playing in the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. Jimmy Walker looked miserable on the Monday afternoon. They don’t even look as though they want to be involved. And that isn’t a great asset for any team.