After a marathon session between the PGA of America’s top executives and the top American players on the PGA tour, the parties concluded that the inmates will now take over the asylum.
In what can best be described as desperation, the Americans are scrambling to find a remedy for two decades of constant failure at the Ryder Cup. The solution, for now, seems to be giving the players–notably Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson–more say in choosing the team and who will be their captain in 2016 at Hazeltine.
In the aftermath of another American loss at Gleneagles in September, Mickelson initiated a mini-insurgency in a post tournament presser. Captain Tom Watson’s leadership and failed strategy became the focal point of Phil’s ire. The airing out by Mickelson prompted the PGA brass to take notice and do more listening than talking this week.
“I was extremely pleased with [PGA of America CEO] Pete Bevacqua and [President] Derek Sprague,” said 2006 U.S. captain Tom Lehman about the four-plus-hour meeting at PGA of America headquarters in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. “They very much took a back seat in that meeting to let the players and the former captains have their way with the agenda. I give them high marks for putting their actions where there words are.”
Davis Love III, 2012 Ryder Cup captain, commented that, “Tiger took charge. Raymond [Floyd] took charge, Phil took charge. We have guys who are very confident, very smart and sure of themselves. Somebody is going to step up and be the leader of this thing and that’s what we need.”
Love added that everyone was very enthusiastic in the meeting: “I can tell you that Tiger, Furyk, and Stricker have been blowing my phone up since the meeting. It’s not like we had a meeting and said we’ll see you again in February.”
Golf Channel reported that the task force commissioned to get the Cup back consists of Sprague, Bevacqua, vice president Paul Levy, Raymond Floyd, Lehman, Davis Love III, Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, and Tiger Woods.
“We discussed a wide array of issues including the selection process for captains and vice captains and more,” Sprague said. “Today was the beginning of a process that is designed to create the conditions for long term Ryder Cup success.”
The 1983 US Open champion and winner of two PGA Championships, Larry Nelson, voiced surprise that the players are being brought into the decision-making process for the Ryder Cup. “I’m surprised players are actually picking the captain.”
Nelson who dominated three separate Ryder Cup championships with a 9-3-1 record was not asked to join the task force. “Players are players,” he told Golf Channel. “There captain needs to be someone who doesn’t answer to anybody else.”