Altvater: Ted Bishop’s Ryder Cup experiment backfiredWritten by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
Two years ago Ted Bishop was the incoming president of the PGA of America. The U.S. Ryder Cup had just experienced another humiliating defeat at Medinah in the 2012 Ryder Cup and something had to be done.
The Europeans were dominating an event that Americans had owned for over 30 years. Since continental Europeans joined the Ryder Cup team in 1979, they are 9-7-1. More importantly they have won eight of the past 10 Ryder Cups, the last three consecutively.
Bishop, in a bold stroke, appointed five-time Open Champion Tom Watson as the U.S. Ryder Cup captain for 2014. The only problem with that plan was that Watson turned 65 years old before the Ryder Cup was contested. Even though, he nearly won a sixth Open Championship in 2009, the generation gap proved to be his undoing at Gleneagles.
Evidently today’s zillionaire-professional golfer does not respond well to Knute Rockne motivation speeches or questionable references to their manhood.
Remember, they can always get in their private jets and go home.
Captain Watson took out his frustration in a bitter tirade after the U.S. team lost 3 ½-½ for the second consecutive day in foursomes at Gleneagles.
He even scoffed at a gift the team members had gotten for him and stormed out of the meeting.
Phil Mickelson attempted to soothe the ruffled feathers, but the damage was done and the U.S. lost once again to the Europeans 16 ½-11 ½.
Mickelson, still more than a little miffed at Captain Watson’s outburst the night before, stirred the pot even more with his comments about the superior captaining skills of Paul Azinger during the Sunday evening press conference at Gleneagles.
The mass hysteria for a Ryder Cup win in the United States has reached epic proportions. Fans, media and golf officials are calling for massive changes in the process of choosing a U.S. team captain.
The latest loss and subsequent bad blood between Watson and his squad has become a stain on the biennial golf matches that are meant to be about sportsmanship and camaraderie.
Sportsmanship seems to get lost in the shuffle when you continuously lose.
Even now the outgoing President of the PGA of America, Ted Bishop has called for change to the selection process. He backed Mickelson’s comments and probably forced Watson to draft the “Open Letter” posted on the PGA.com website.
Azinger, the last winning U.S. Ryder Cup team captain, is lobbying hard for the captain’s position for the next six years and the golf media is having a jolly old time writing volumes about the disorganization of the American Ryder Cup effort.
You know what they say: There is no such thing as bad publicity.
We are two full weeks removed from the last putt dropping and bottle of champagne uncorked at Gleneagles and the Ryder Cup is still leading the golf news.
You just can’t buy publicity like this.
There will be changes and the Ryder Cup will be contested again in two-year’s time at Hazeltine in Minneapolis.
It will once again one of the most anticipated sporting events of 2016 and the outcome will probably be the same with a European win.
Simply because, they get it.
The Europeans come to play some golf, enjoy being with their buddies and have a good time. The U.S team just wants to promote their individual brand and reap more sponsor dollars after the matches conclude.
Can Azinger change that?
Fred Altvater offers golf tips and videos at www.toledoohiogolflessons.com. Email him at BackNine@toledofree press.com or follow him on Twitter @tolohgolfr.