Freddie Couples Deserves A Shot At Captainship
By Matt Cohen
After multiple meetings of the PGA of America’s Ryder Cup task force, Davis Love III has been chosen as the 2016 captain for the United States. A formal announcement is expected sometime next week. Here are 4 reasons why this is a terrible decision:
1. Love Stewarded One of the Worst Collapses In Recent Ryder Cup History
2016 will be Love’s second go-round as Ryder Cup captain. His first came at Medinah in 2012. Remember that debacle? Let’s refresh your memory.
On Sunday, the U.S. led 10–6 and needed just 4½ points to win. Europe needed 8 points to retain the cup and 8½ to win it outright. So what happened? The U.S. collapsed and Europe achieved one of the greatest comebacks in history, winning eight and tying one of the 12 singles matches.
Martin Kaymer drained a five-foot put on 18 to beat Steve Stricker, making the score 14-13. At this point, Europe had already retained the cup. Then the final match in progress – Tiger Woods missed a putt on 18 and conceded the hole to Francesco Molinari, halving the final point and securing outright victory for the European team, 14½–13½.
2. Love’s Errors Contributed To Collapse
It’s true. Although ultimately it comes down to the players not performing, Love botched the weekend badly. Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson were crushing it that week. The pair went 3-0, and dominated the tandem of Lee Westwood and Luke Donald 7-6 on Saturday morning. Love wanted to put the pair back out again in the afternoon, but Mickelson declined; Love should have pressed.
Love also didn’t get rid of Stricker soon enough, who was a captain’s pick. Stricker was having a nightmare at Medinah and went 0-4 (his playing partner Tiger didn’t help). Love should’ve gotten rid of him early. Instead, he put Stricker out in the 11th position on Sunday, a crucial spot considering how close the match got. Of course, Stricker was awful again and lost 1-up to Kaymer. If Mickelson didn’t want to go out again on Saturday afternoon, Love should have put Bradley out with Tiger. Then Sunday might not have happened.
3. Freddie Couples Deserves His Shot
No one doubts how great a golfer Love is/was. The guy won 20 PGA Tour events, including the 1997 PGA Championship. But it’s time Freddie Couples gets his shot. Ironically, the two are close friends.
It’s pretty clear that many of the players want Couples. Couples has gone 3-0 as Presidents Cup captain, winning with the same players that always lose in the Ryder Cup. Many, if not most, have backed Couples as a player’s choice for captain. Does it really matter that the Presidents Cup is a different animal than the Ryder Cup? No. All you need to know is that after the U.S. lost in 2014, the whole team texted Couples and asked him to be captain.
Apparently, Couples isn’t a “PGA guy” (whatever that means). Still, Couples has expressed interest in the captainship. If the powers that be didn’t pick Couples because they don’t like him for whatever reason, isn’t that a bit juvenile? After all, this is about winning, is it not? And since Europe has spanked the United States 8 of the last 10 Ryder Cups, maybe it’s time for everyone to put their big boy pants on and do what’s best for the red, white and blue.
4. It Doesn’t Matter Who The Captain Is
This is more of a general criticism of the U.S. performance in recent Ryder Cups. Europe has won 8 of the last 10, dating back to 1995. Let’s face it – Europe has been kicking America’s rear end. It doesn’t matter what the format is (best-ball, alternate shot) – Europe has been flat out dominant.
The bottom line is this – none of us have a crystal ball. Perhaps the United States will finally get its act together and win a Ryder Cup for a change. Maybe the United States, as Mickelson put it after the 2014 loss, will embrace Paul Azinger’s recommendations (the last winning captain). And maybe, just maybe, Love will have something to do with that at Hazeltine twenty months from now. But the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. If the United States wants to win a Ryder Cup, it’s time for some changes. But hey, that’s just me.