2004: Our Opinion - A bigger, better Ryder Cup

Vijay Singh, the hottest player on the planet, will be on the sideline this week as golf’s center stage features the Ryder Cup Matches. Same for Ernie Els, who notched top-10 finishes in all four majors this season.

What’s wrong with that picture?

It’s time for the PGA of America, the PGA Tour and the other members of the International Federation of PGA Tours to figure out some way to merge the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup.

It could be done as soon as 2006, when the 36th Ryder Cup Matches are slated for the Kildare Hotel & Country Club near Dublin, Ireland. The Presidents Cup venue for 2007 hasn’t been determined (it’s likely headed to Canada); the Ryder Cup Matches are set through 2016.

The new mega-event could be played in Asia, Australia, New Zealand or Africa in 2018 and 2020, then go into a regular rotation of Europe-United States-Rest of the World.

American players shouldn’t be expected to endure the pressures and travel of a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup every year. Not only is it unfair, but Americans no longer dominate the game. Golf has gone global – in a big way – and the two sides that have posted a combined 6-6-2 record against the United States in Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups since 1985 ought to have the opportunity to knock heads as well.

Some sort of round-robin format could be devised, perhaps extending the extravaganza to five days of competition. International television rights fees and global merchandising license fees likely would placate organizers of the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, who aren’t inclined to cede their current turf. Surely the players would relish a biennial opportunity to play an all-inclusive team game.

In deference to history, call it the Global Ryder Cup. After all, it was the notion of international goodwill that prompted Sam Ryder to underwrite the matches in the first place.

Junior Ryder deserves more consideration

While we’re on the topic of inclusion, the PGA of America also needs to take a less self-serving look at its selection process for the Junior Ryder Cup competition.

Contested Sept. 11-12 in Ohio, this year’s JRC was the third consecutive rout by a team from Europe. The final score was 81/2-31/2, a slight improvement over a 91/2-21/2 defeat in 2002 and 101/2-11/2 loss in ’99.

The selection process this year produced a U.S. team with only one player represented among the top 20 of the Golfweek/Titleist Junior Rankings.

The PGA of America picks its junior squad based on points awarded for top finishes at PGA Junior Series events, Westfield PGA sectional qualifiers and the Westfield PGA Junior. Performance on other junior circuits, including the premier American Junior Golf Association, means nothing.

Given the Ryder Cup’s prestige and the PGA of America’s resources, the Junior Ryder Cup deserves more than just cursory attention from the U.S. side.

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