Until We Get Better in Foursomes, THE RYDER CUP Will Remain in Europe
You can come up with all kinds of reasons why the U.S. Team lost the 2014 edition of the Ryder Cup: Europe putted better, they got more breaks, they were lucky, or it was really closer than the score indicated, blah, blah. The plain fact of the matter is we stink; perhaps that’s a bit harsh. We suck would be more like it, at the alternate shot portion of the competition.
One – let me repeat that – ONE point of a possible eight in foursomes play, not even from a win. It was two halved matches. This is where we have come up short in all the losses over the past few competitions. There already has been a lot of second-guessing about the team selection, the captain’s iron hand, and bad pairings as there always are after a loss. Time to look at the process and get back to the Azinger way, says Mickelson, quickly ballooned out of proportion by the press. Nonsense all. Just get better at alternate shot and we win.
I have my own thoughts on how to do this. We usually know well ahead of time who most likely will make the team, and also the handful who will be in the running for the last spots or a captain’s pick. We also know that the players do get together to practice with each other leading up to the Cup. If I were the captain, anytime I had those players together for a practice session, I would make them play alternate shot competitions against each other. That is probably all I would do. I would mix them up and keep a record of who played best with whom, so when I made up teams for the actual matches, I would have a pretty good idea of which pairings worked best.
The practice week before the matches, same thing. Alternate shot only. Heck, we know these guys can play their own ball well. They do it every day. Time to pay attention to where the problem is. Like Harvey Penick once said to Tom Kite, “We are going to the range. You don’t need a putting lesson, you need to hit your approach shots closer to the hole.” We don’t necessarily need pods, just better play in alternate shot competition.