One for the little guys: Pavin is a solid pick to lead Ryder Cup team
So not everyone is pleased that the PGA of America has tabbed Corey Pavin as the next American Ryder Cup captain. Now there’s a surprise.
It seems there’s a school of thought that the fiery Paul Azinger managed to rally the outgunned Americans to victory this year, so why tamper with success? Is it possible that the Americans would have won at Valhalla Golf Club anyway if Azinger had not been captain?
Of course it is.
A lot has been made of Azinger’s sub-group bonding of players, then making pairings accordingly. The idea certainly seemed to work, as did a few other buttons that he pushed during the week. But if the putts hadn’t dropped, if Kentucky’s Kenny Perry and J.B. Holmes had come up a little short of their 2.5 points each, if Azinger’s four captain’s picks, led by Hunter Mahan’s 3.5 points, had not performed quite so spectacularly, and the Americans had lost, we wouldn’t be thinking that much of Azinger’s strategy today.
It also didn’t hurt that the 2008 Ryder Cup was played at Valhalla, a course clearly more to the Americans’ liking, especially after Azinger tweaked the setup, which any home captain would have done. Perhaps this group of players, many of whom weren’t tainted by past Ryder Cup failures, didn’t sit around waiting for Tiger Woods take the lead because that wasn’t an option. (No, I’m not suggesting that any Ryder Cup team is better without Woods, but these guys stepped up.)
Having Azinger as captain at Celtic Manor’s Twenty Ten Course in Wales doesn’t guarantee another victory. And Pavin might have a few surprises of his own. Not to take anything away from Zinger, but who has done more with less in his career than Pavin, who, by the way, is a veteran of three Ryder Cup teams with a stellar 8-5-3 record?
No doubt, players can respond to the team format and take inspiration from their captain and teammates, but shouldn’t that happen no matter who leads the team? When you come down to it, golf is still an individual sport, and the most important attribute players can have is confidence, not Adrenaline. This isn’t football. You can’t blow the Euros off the line of scrimmage. The best thing a captain can do is instill a little confidence and make sure he doesn’t do anything to get in the way. Pavin will do just fine.
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