Tuesday, October 02, 2012

It's a Second-Guesser's Universe, Part the 12 Billionth

U.S. Ryder Cup team captain Davis Love III is getting ripped (as much as the sympathetic-verging-on-sycophantic golf media ever rips anyone) for the team's collapse and Europe's final day rally for its 14 1/2-13 1/2 victory.  The theory goes that Love blew the Cup by having the team of Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley sit out Saturday afternoon's four-ball session despite their undefeated 3-0 record.

If Mickelson and Bradley HAD played, we are told, the U.S. would have earned an extra point on Saturday, and it wouldn't have mattered that the team only won three of 12 singles matches on Sunday. Counterfactuals sure are fun for commentators, even if they're cosmologically impossible.

Love's captaincy is not beyond criticism. Selecting Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker as team members was, to be kind, a decision that didn't work as well as hoped. But the "he shoulda played Phil more" argument reminds me of the Ryder Cup comeback/collapse that's tied with 2012 in the record books.

In 1999 at the Country Club in Brookline, European captain Mark James rode his stud hosses until they dropped in the partners format matches, keeping weak sisters like Jormo Sandelin, Andrew Coltart and Jean Van de Velde off the course completely. This built a 10-6 lead going into the singles.

And after the U.S. won eight matches and tied one for a 14 1/2-13 1/2 comeback victory, do you know what the golf media said about James? Only one guess should be needed.

James was ripped for OVERUSING his best players and not giving his weaker ones a chance to get used to Ryder Cup pressure.

So future captains, you're on notice. Golf  "experts" agree. All your possible lineup choices are the wrong ones -- after the fact if the putts don't drop.


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