Task force revamps US Ryder Cup team a er 2014 flop
AUS Ryder Cup task force formed only days after a humbling 2014 defeat at Gleneagles has revamped the Americans’ mindset and attitude entering this year’s showdown against Europe.
And part of how they did it is by stealing some tricks from their trans-Atlantic rivals.
Echoes of Phil Mickelson’s 2014 post-Cup comments detailing a lack of player input on captain Tom Watson’s team and how that differed from a 2008 US home triumph will be felt at the 41st biennial competition from September 30 to October 2 at Hazeltine.
“Definitely a fresh, positive attitude from the start of 2015 building for the future,” 2016 US captain Davis Love said.
Love, who also guided the 2012 US squad that fell victim to the greatest last-day comeback in Cup history, was named to an 11-person US Ryder Cup task force barely two weeks after the third US loss in a row and eighth in the past 10 Ryder Cups.
Love and fellow captains Tom Lehman and Ray Floyd were joined by three PGA of America officials and players Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Rickie Fowler, Steve Stricker and Tiger Woods.
“Players hadn’t had any involvement or input into the process and that has changed,” Mickelson said. “Davis has been the leader of that change.
“There’s a lot more input from players and assistant captains and building a platform for years to come. We’ll try to keep some continuity from year to year, something we really haven’t had in the 20 years I’ve played.”
Planning and strategy will decide every detail well in advance for foursomes and four-ball pairings to allow players to focus on preparation.
“The whole goal is to give the players an opportunity to succeed as opposed to giving them challenges to overcome,” Mickelson said. “The way you do that is eliminate the variables, the obstacles that cause pressure – who are you going to play with, what matches are you going to play, what holes do you tee off on, what ball are you going to play.
Stealing a page from Europe, the idea is to keep the program going from Cup to Cup and build teamwork.
“When you look at the European team, many of them play the best golf of their entire career the weeks of the Ryder Cup,” Mickelson said.
“That’s not a fluke. When you have a real team, a partnership, you lift each other up to new highs and we haven’t had that type of continuity, support system, game plan, structure, from year to year.”
Mickelson warnsed that US players still need execute, however.
“We still have to play great golf to win,” he said. “The difference is we’re being put in a position to succeed.”
US golfer Jordan Spieth hits out of a bunker on the 10th green during Round 4 of the 80th Masters tournament in Augusta, Georgia on April 10. Former world number one Jordan Spieth says he would swap a US$10 million FedEx Cup payday for victory in the Ryder Cup.