The Ryder Cup: Time for the PGA of America to Shake Things Up in 2014

Michael FitzpatrickFeatured ColumnistOctober 11, 2012

MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 25:  USA team captain Davis Love III poses with the trophy during the official photocall during the second preview day of The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Golf Club on September 25, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
David Cannon/Getty Images

Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result.

Every two years the PGA of America selects a Ryder Cup captain, and every two years the PGA of America does the same thing while somehow expecting a different result.

The PGA of America typically selects a captain between the ages of 45 and 55 who has been a member of at least two Ryder Cup teams and more often than not has won at least one PGA Championship (which coincidentally is the only major organized by the PGA of America).

Davis Love III, Corey Pavin, Paul Azinger, Tom Lehman, Hal Sutton, Curtis Strange, etc.—all of these guys more or less fit this mold of the PGA of America’s “ideal” Ryder Cup captain. Yet five out of these six men failed to deliver the Ryder Cup to the United States despite having an exponentially better team on paper.

Perhaps instead of going with the obvious choice for the 2014 matches in Scotland—which everyone has more or less concluded will be David Toms—it’s time for the PGA of America to try something a little different in order to get out of this pattern which would have Einstein labeling them insane.

There are a number of different “outside of the box” paths the PGA of American can take with this.

Perhaps they might look towards an elder statesman of the game such as a Jack Nicklaus or Arnold Palmer? Or even a Nicklaus-Palmer co-captaincy?

Maybe a guy like Tom Watson, who is of course a legend in the game but is still quite involved as he attends several PGA Tour events each year including the Masters and the Open Championship, would be a good choice for 2014…and if ever there was an American who knows how to win in Scotland, it's Watson.

What about even looking a bit younger—perhaps appointing Phil Mickelson as a potential playing captain in 2014?

How about bringing back a successful captain such as Azinger? The last man to captain more than one U.S. Ryder Cup team was Jack Nicklaus back in 1987.

Or how about righting one of the all-time wrongs in Ryder Cup history, which was the PGA of America’s decision to pass over Larry Nelson as a Ryder Cup captain despite Nelson’s exceptional Ryder Cup record and three major championship victories including the 1981 and 1987 PGA Championships.

There are certainly a number of different routes the PGA of American can take as it pertains to the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup captain. But one thing is for certain, it’s time for the PGA of America to shake things up a bit.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with Toms, and he’d likely make an excellent captain someday, but just not right now. Simply handing the captaincy to the next guy on the PGA of America’s predefined conveyor belt would be the worst possible decision they could make if America has any aspirations of bringing the Cup home in 2014.

Like most large organizations steeped in history and tradition, the PGA of America has a hard time changing direction, even when it has become blatantly obvious that they have been heading down the wrong path for decades, so no one would be the slightest bit surprised if Toms comes right of the conveyor belt and is appointed captain of the 2014 Ryder Cup team.

But having said that, no one would be surprised either if the outcome is no different in 2014 to what it has been for 10 out of the last 14 Ryder Cups, because we all know what happens when you try the same thing over and over again and expect a different result.  

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