Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pick 4 not a safe bet!

You’re Paul Azinger and you weren’t careful about what you wished for, were you? You accepted the post of Ryder Cup captain only after the PGA of America acquiesced to your demands. You wanted four captain’s picks instead of two. Well, now you’ve got them, what are you going to do with them?

You’ve already had Phil Mickelson, Stewart Cink, Kenny Perry, Jim Furyk, Anthony Kim, Justin Leonard, Ben Curtis and Boo Weekley make the team on points. Some might say that with three Ryder Cup rookies in Kim, Curtis and Weekley and one with only one appearance (Perry) that you’re a little thin in experience. Given the recent success of the “veterans,” how could that be a bad thing?

Besides, bringing the newbies to Valhalla will be a good attitude adjustment. They’ll be so excited that they won’t notice how unpleasant this track situated in the rolling hills outside of Louisville, Ky. really is. The fact that the PGA of America is part owner of the course explains why this strange selection and why it’s been the stage of two PGA Championships. Other than that, you wouldn’t have a dog race there.

To date, you haven’t been holding your cards too close to the vest, oh captain, my captain. You’ve openly waxed poetic about the power and intimidation power hitters such as J.B. Holmes and Bubba Watson bring to the table. The problem is, they’re ranked 17th and 26th respectively. Also, you’d have to pass by players like Steve Stricker, Hunter Mahan, Brandt Snedeker and crowd favorite Rocco Mediate. I don’t know about that.

Granted, Holmes also meets your criteria of having won this year (Phoenix), but he has a few other assets as well. Imagine sending out your first match with a team of Perry and Holmes, a pair of Kentuckians to rile up the crowd. Add in a mint julep or four in the crowd and there will be some real excitement.

In addition, Holmes will serve another purpose. His lava-esque pace of play may just destroy opponent’s concentration and hopefully not his partner’s. I think Holmes should be the power pick as Watson seems to be blossoming into the Earl of Surl on the PGA Tour and his attitude wouldn’t be a major contribution to the overall chemistry of the squad.

If you go strictly by the numbers, Stricker, Woody Austin, D. J. Trahan and Mahan will be on the team. But why would you do that, when you lobbied for four picks.

You’ve said that you’re open to pick a player who is playing well at decision time. I defy you to find one. Leader boards have been saturated with names of players either ineligible to play in the event due to birth place, or worse yet, players on the other side. Let’s face it, even the players you’ve been stuck...er who have made the team aren’t lighting it up.

You’ll have the distinct opportunity to enter the matches as a betting underdog, an honor rarely accorded to American captains. As you will find, it’s a well deserved distinction. Unfortunately, instead of studying the on course chemistry of the team during practice rounds, you may have to be teaching a course on the vagaries of match play. That is, unless Weekley has been taking tutelage on his own. In the Accenture Match Play Championship this year, Boo didn’t understand the concept of a conceded putt and had to be taught by his opponent during a match.

Zinger, you’ve won a major championship, you’ve successfully represented the U.S. in this wonderful event. The question begs to be asked, why did get yourself in this position?

Bartender, pour me a dram of Kentucky’s finest brown liquor and leave the bottle for Captain Azinger. He’s going to need it. By the way, P.A.—Stricker, Mahan, Holmes and O’Hair isn’t the name of a Louisville accounting firm, but they are four golfers who can give a good account of themselves at Valhalla.

See you on the first tee.


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