The 2014 Ryder Cup has come and gone.
Sam Ryder’s dream of pitting an American team in a series of matches against a team from the U.K. once again produced some of the most breathtaking golf in the world. Watching Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson reel off 12 birdies in 16 holes was heaven-sent.
The three-day event was captivating and entertaining, but the 2014 contest leaves me wondering what the future will bring.
Since 1927, a very small trophy depicting the image of golfer Abe Mitchell on its top has generated interest around the world.
From 1927 until 1959 the cup was played for only 12 points because the Americans were winning by such large margins, the number of matches was reduced.
In 1979, the UK Team was expanded to include the rest of Europe, which has captured eight of the last 10 Ryder Cups as the competition played out as a televised spectacle
Honour, dignity, respect and class are words associated with the atmosphere surrounding the Ryder Cup.
Sure there have been controversies such as the outburst on the 17th green at Brookline or a feud between Seve Ballesteros and Paul Azinger, but for the most part, the extreme pressure has produced exceptional golf without a lot of animosity.
However, I wonder if this is about to change.
Over the years, heroes have emerged at junctures constructed by the timing of the moment. Martin Kymer sunk the winning putt in 2012. Jack Nicklaus conceded a putt to Tony Jacklin in 1969 that will forever be one of the greatest memories in sports.
Ian Poulter ran off five straight birdies to spring board Europe to victory in 2012 and Justin Leonard holed a bomb for the U.S. in 1999 at Brookline.
Yet, in recent years, the big U.S. names have not produced, but the Ryder Cup requires outstanding performances from every player. It is not about any one person, player, captain or individual performance.
Different captains have tried different managerial approaches to motivate their players. Some work, some don’t.
In 2008, Paul Azinger used a “pod” system while Nick Faldo relied on Europe’s time-tested method of camaraderie and “let ‘em play.” Azinger won.
Every Captain tries to select the best available players with his picks and works diligently to arrive at the perfect pairings for the matches. Ultimately, the results are determined more by solid play than the luck of placements.
In 2014, we have a unique set of circumstances. A player has been publicly critical of the management system employed by a captain.
Phil Mickelson indicated that Tom Watson’s style cost the Americans their best opportunity to win. Phil has played on 10 Ryder Cup Teams and has winning percentage that isn’t enviable.
For all of his bluster, I wonder why Phil hasn’t attacked the other nine captains he served under and why can’t he beat a bunch of second stringers from the European Tour?
Instead, Phil has revealed the USA team problem for a lack of recent success. It’s called ego. The American players have such a deep rooted self-belief that emanates from tremendous support surrounding them as they develop, they can no longer think in terms of sharing, helping or team play.
European players are developed in a far more “we are all in it together” approach. They travel together, dine together and room together during their formative years due to lower levels of funding.
Mickelson’s lack of support for his captain tells me that he thinks the results posted by the last 10 USA Ryder Cup Teams were less determined through poor play by the players than the management style of all but one Captain.
I think the solution is to make Phil Mickelson the playing captain for 2016.
Maybe Phil could use his management style to bring victory to America via a return to the days when the opposing eam consisted of a bunch of club pro’s from the U.K. because the past few competitions have shown Europe simply plays better.