“Boys, there’s nothing to being the captain of the Ryder Cup. You guys are all great players. Pairing is really easy. I’m going to pair together you boys who drive it crooked, and I’m going to pair together you boy who drive it straight. And the first ball’s going to be hit by Julius Boros cuz he don’t give a shit about anything. So ya’ll just go play your game.
You got these uniforms here. If you don’t like the way they fit or whatnot, don’t wear them. I never could play in someone else’s clothes. Doug Sanders, if you want to come out here and dress like a peacock that’s fine. Whatever you want. But let me tell you boys one thing – I don’t want my name on the trophy as a losing captain.” – Ben Hogan 1967
Half-assed and relaxed, but yet still inspiring. I don’t know what Steve Stricker’s pregame speech will be, but if it’s as vanilla as his picks, it may induce a few into a coma rather than pump them up. I like Stricker. As a player he was anything but vanilla. A gritty competitor who never seemed to go away and would grind you to death with his wedges and putter. Always emotional after a win, he treated every event as if it may be his last. So far his captaincy has been the exact opposite.
The format as to who makes the US team was changed once again to try and turn the tides in America’s favor. After the 6 automatic qualifiers based on points were cemented, Capt Stricker would have 6 picks of his own to fill the team. He pretty much just picked the next 6 on the list, which is based on points accumulated over the past 2 seasons. For years it was 10 automatic qualifiers and 2 captain’s picks. Then we tried 8 and 4. Now 6 and 6. But what the hell’s the point when you’re just going to pick the next 6 players in succession anyways? Seems lame, lazy, and uninspiring to me.
We need some outside-the-box thinking and creativity when it comes to who gets on the team. We need irritants. Like rocks in your shoe or a mosquito at a picnic. That mosquito just happens to hit it 300 yards and make every 8 footer he looks at. The European squad is full of irritants. Sergio, Poulter, Westwood, Hatton…all great players and all class people I’m sure. But all can rub you the wrong way and get under your skin on the course. Even Rory can be irritating, unless I’m the only one who’s bothered by the way he hops from tee to green like a buff Irish jackrabbit. The closest person the US team has to an irritant is Bryson, and he’s so “aww shucks” about his ways that most people just brush him off and chuckle.
The picks I’m thinking of wouldn’t have really been outside-the-box when it comes to where they finished on the points list. I wasn’t looking for Stricker to pick someone who was ranked 38th. I’m looking at Kevin Na, Billy Horschel, Jason Kokrak, and Patrick Reed. Yes Reed’s health was in question. He was hospitalized 2 weeks before the Tour Championship with double pneumonia. But because he couldn’t fly, he drove the entire way to Atlanta to play in the season finale and finish 25th. That’s guts and commitment to his country and his team. Plus he’s Captain America with a 3-1 singles record. Also, he’s an irritant.
Billy Horschel performs so well with a chip on his shoulder that he took that fire in his belly after not getting the call from Stricker and headed overseas to win the BMW. How’s that for sticking it to the man? That’s confidence and the ability to turn negative fuel into a positive fire. Also…irritant.
Kevin Na is one of the good guys on tour. He’s a player and fan favorite and a downright bulldog on the golf course. Great guy to have on your team because you could literally pair him with anyone. Plus he has some quirks and mannerisms that could definitely get under your skin if he was your opponent; like walking in a 25 footer when it’s 5 feet short of the hole. Kevin Na…irritant.
Jason Kokrak has just enough swagger to make someone mumble “Who’s this guy think he is?” He is one of the longest players and best putters on tour. He won twice in 2020-2021, taking down Xander Schauffele at the CJ Cup and Jordan Spieth at Colonial. That’s who he thinks he is. He was paired in the final round with 2 of the best players on the planet and prevailed both times. Walks the walk and backs it up…irritant.
DeChambeau v Kopeka; Joke’s on Us
Early on this “rivalry” may have been authentic with a jab here and a jab there, but I think the two players got together and really manufactured this to take it overboard. Is there any coincidence that this little pillow fight is happening the first year the Player Impact Program (PIP) is put into place? The PIP awards money, millions, as part of a retirement to players who make the biggest impact and help grow the PGA Tour brand on their social media platforms. If this is indeed WWE scripted, it’s a waste of time because they don’t stand a chance against the likes of Phil or Tiger. Tiger tweets a pic of a green bean and the world goes nuts. Maybe waste of time is a bit harsh. They did take golf to the forefront but it’s grown tired. I’m way passed over it.
If the feud is authentic, Brooks is the one to blame. Bryson doesn’t intentionally egg anyone on or annoy on purpose. Brooks is the one that pushed “Brooksie” and even got a beer sponsor involved. Koepka is the biggest baby on tour and says everything he can to squash your hopes and dreams of a tour player by saying nothing is important and shame on you for caring more than he does. Besides, he’s the common denominator when it comes to douchebagness. Remember the rumor at the last Ryder Cup in Paris that he and DJ came to blows in the team room? They went from playing together in every practice round to no longer being friends.
For weeks we heard will they be a distraction in the team room? Will they create separation amongst the team? I say pair them together and throw them out there Match 1 on Friday morning. The only people that’ll distract is the Euro pairing across from them. Go out there and bomb it and high five your way to a point and set the tone that whether we like each other or not, we’re tired of losing and we’re here to kick your ass. How’s that for a pair of irritants?
More Word-Vomit from Koepka
Brooksie just can’t help himself as he spewed more hot garbage during his recent interview with Golf Digest. The 4-time major winner said not only can he catch Tiger with 15 majors, but that he will. Maybe it’s just mental fodder to stay motivated, but Tiger had 10 majors before his 30th birthday. Koepka turns 32 next May.
By the Numbers
As per usual, the US Team is the favorite on paper. The average world ranking for the Americans is 9. The average world ranking for the Euros is 30. But we don’t play golf on paper…
USA leads with an all-time record of 26-14-2. However, since the Great Britain & Ireland squad expanded to all of Europe, they have the edge 11-8-1. Europe has also won 7 of the last 10 cups.
Francesco Molinari went 5-0 in the last cup in Paris. He’s not on the team this year.
There are 9 rookies among the 2 teams. Harris English, Daniel Berger, Scottie Scheffler, Colin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele, Shane Lowery, Bernd Weisberger, Viktor Hovland
There are 13 major victories on the US side. The Europeans represent 7. Koepka and McIlroy have 4 each.
This is the first Ryder Cup without Tiger or Phil since 1993.
Enjoy the game and each other,
Seth Zipay – Head Golf Professional