Can Captain Paul Azinger Cure the Americans' Ryder Cup Shanks?

J. Michael MorrisSenior Analyst ISeptember 3, 2008

Is the U.S. Ryder Cup Team properly preparing themselves for another huge embarrassing failure?

No question about it, the Americans have a case of the shanks when it comes to Ryder Cup competition. Of course they have the talent to win, but why don't they? Is it format? Is it head-to-head competition? Is it a personality clash?

With the recent captain's picks for the U.S. Ryder Cup Team being announced, Paul Azinger apparently thinks it is something far less tangible.

Just like the wedge shanks, nobody knows why or when they will appear, and how they leave is even more elusive. One positive thought American golf fans can cling to is that the shanks always eventually go away. Maybe this is the year.

Remember the scene from Tin Cup where Cheech Marin cures Kevin Costner's shanks, I found it on wikiquote, it goes like this:


In other words, he was trying to change anything and everything without changing the important things associated with swinging the club. Why it sometimes works is as much a mystery as why it sometimes doesn't. Maybe it's karma, law of averages, luck, or just the golf gods being cruel once again. Maybe we should call them golf demons instead.

Captain Azinger's attempt to become the Mexican Mac O'Grady for the American Ryder cup team has resulted in some puzzling and potentially undeserving players being chosen to round out the squad this year.

Just like European golf fans are doing to poor Nick Faldo, I am going to dissect his thought process like my fourth-grade science project. Hopefully this time around, it won't result in weeping boils on my hands from that decaying pig fetus.


Ryder Cup members who qualified with points:

Phil Mickleson, Stewart Cink, Kenny Perry, Jim Furyk, Anthony Kim, Justin Leonard, Ben Curtis, Boo Weekley.

Captain's Picks

Steve Stricker: Ninth on the list of qualifiers and no good reason existed not to invite him, except for his obvious fear of being in the spotlight. Maybe if his competitors ignore him and pretend he is someone more intimidating, it could work. Steve, give yourself a Mr. T haircut and a couple tattoos before the tournament and take up smoking.

Hunter Mahan: Played well the last couple of weeks and pretty well all season. Anyone named Hunter is a mama's boy. He probably grew up practicing at the finest country club in Orange, Calif. On the list of least competitive boy's names, right next to Sue.

Chad Campbell: He's 20th on the list. Why was he chosen over eight others ahead of him? His best finish this year was a tie for second in Houston. He does rank 11th in scoring average on tour this year, but he has only won three times in his five seasons on tour.

J.B. Holmes: Long hitter from Kentucky, where the event is being played. He did win the FBR this season and almost has a home-course advantage. I just hate people who use initials instead of their given name. What, is he in the USGA witness protection program, for hustling amateurs in Vegas?

Maybe Azinger wants everyone to criticize these guys and tell them how unworthy they are to be on the team. Sometimes it motivates athletes to be considered the underdog. But golfers aren't really athletes, and I don't think motivation has been the problem in the past. Does Tiger ever lack motivation? His teams lost too.

One angle Paul is trying to exploit is the hometown crowd. He already had Kenny Perry from Kentucky, then he also chose J.B. A gallery full of drunk Kentucky hillbillies cheering their boys on to halving matches might get Ian Poulter's pink panties in a bunch.

Another comment Azinger has made a couple of times is that Ryder Cup experience is actually a detriment because the previous teams have lost. He likes Ryder Cup rookies and chose four of them for that, among other, reasons. By this logic, Mark Cuban wouldn't choose Dirk Nowitski to play for the Mavericks next season.

There was no compelling reason to choose any player, so Captain Paul isn't going to explain his decisions to anyone. If it works and the Americans finally win again, Paul Azinger becomes the mysterious Yoda-like guru of Ryder Cup selection chi.

If they lose again, I recommend choosing Cheech as the 2010 captain. He couldn't do worse.