Wednesday, October 8

Jeff Babineau: 'Where Is the Player Accountability?'

I APOLOGIZE IN ADVANCE. I thought I had moved on from that American debacle called the 2014 Ryder Cup. But it keeps coming up. In fact, I just heard the Golf Channel's Brandel Chamblee talking about it on CBS Sports Radio with John Feinstein.

At this blog in recent days, I've written about the persistent tendency to place too much blame on captains (not just Captain Watson). I've also reported on the U.S. team room fiasco that likely fueled Phil Mickelson's post-Ryder Cup comments. And I've acknowledged that Watson's old-school tactics were largely ineffectual.

Now, probably for the last time for a while, I'm coming back around to the players. I was sparked by Golfweek's Jeff Babineau.

From Babineau's Monday column:
• That said, it brings us to Thought No. 2: Certainly captains play a bigger role in the Ryder Cup than one might think (despite what Johnny Miller says), but at some point, a ball gets placed on a tee and the players decide these things. The public bashing of 65-year-old legend Tom Watson, the U.S. captain, overshadows a significant aspect of the competition. 
Where is the player accountability? 
Once again, our top players were totally outshined by their counterparts from across the pond. The top four U.S. players from the Official World Golf Ranking (Jim Furyk, Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar, Rickie Fowler) finished a combined 2-11-3 at Gleneagles; the top four Euros (Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Rose) were a combined 10-3-5.
Yes, captains certainly matter, but nothing (including no person or people) more directly impacts the outcome of the Ryder Cup than the players.

Whether Captain Paul Azinger or Captain Tom Watson, pods or no pods, home or away, the 12 players who represent the United States in the Ryder Cup must take a lion's share of ownership when it comes to the final score. This seems to be somewhat of a no-brainer.

The other no-brainer: In recent Ryder Cups, Europe has been better to far better.

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