Prez Cup: Don't blame Stricker for Bradley's absence
Monday, October 31, 2011
If he can play he will.
If Steve Stricker tees it up at the Presidents Cup in a few weeks some people are going to be upset, and that is dead wrong. Stricker was forced to withdraw from the BMW Championship, the third leg of the PGA Tour Playoffs for the Fed Ex Cup. He came back and finished a respectable 15th at the Tour Championship the next week although he was in obvious pain.
Stricker spoke last week to the Milwaukee Journal and said he was planning on playing the Presidents Cup even though he has not been able to practice. He has seen a battalion of doctors and heard a variety of opinions. He has opted not to have surgery so that he can play in the Presidents Cup. “My arm would have to be falling off for me not to play,” said Stricker. The herniated disk in his neck causes weakness in his left arm. But he's determined because he doesn't know any other way to be.
Keegan Bradley is considered the sympathetic victim in all of this. His great season wasn't enough to put him on the team. That is not Stricker's fault – not by a long shot. To be fair it isn't Bill Haas' or Tiger Woods' fault either. They didn't pick themselves. Fred Couples picked them and he knows more about captaining one of these teams than all but a handful of people on the planet. But this isn't a case of not having enough room on the team for players who have played their best golf leading up to the matches. The issue arises in the tired automatic selection process
Players earn points based on dollars. In off-years – 2010 in this case – each player earns one point for money earned. The points double in years that the cup is held. So Keegan Bradely, a rookie, only earned points this year. Bradley finished the season 13th on the PGA Tour money list and ninth among Americans. In other words, if it was a one year process he would be on the team. And it seems like it should be as simple as that.
The Ryder Cup has come to the conclusion that the off-year shouldn't have much to do with automatic selections to the team. In off Ryder Cup years only the Major Championships are used to accumulate points. Because of this Bradley is first in Ryder Cup points heading into 2012.
The funny part of this discussion lies in what hasn't been said. No one has said that Bradley didn't do enough to make the team. No one has used the old tour mantra of “just play better.” He played great and deserves a spot. Interestingly though, no one seems to be screaming for a mild reform to a system that is so clearly broken. Keep the current system but simply do away with the off-year points. Another option would be to take a handful of events from the previous year and make them part of the process. Because the PGA Tour owns the Presidents Cup they would never simply fall in line behind the Ryder Cup. But a system that included the Majors, Players Championship and World Golf Championship events in the off-years might allow for the best young talent to have a chance.
Whatever is decided, two things are certain: Keegan had a year to remember and should rewarded for it. Moreover, Steve Stricker did more than enough this year to prove that he belongs on the team. He won twice, finished second in points and eighth on the 2011 money list.
I understand the sentiment that wishes Bradley had gotten his due. But remember that it is the system that left Bradley wanting, not Steve Stricker. Argue all you want with Freddy's picks but he didn't create the system either. The preposterous suggestions that Stricker should step aside and let Bradley play are just that. Stricker is simply the gutsiest player on the PGA Tour and he earned his spot on the team under any points configuration. Furthermore when he shows up he will be there to play, pain or not. He is the two-time Comeback Player of the Year for goodness sake. If it is possible, he will be ready.