Red, white and boo: Back to drawing board for U.S. after task-force decisions backfire

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Red, white and boo: Back to drawing board for U.S. after task-force decisions backfire

2018 Ryder Cup

Red, white and boo: Back to drawing board for U.S. after task-force decisions backfire

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Hit the ball straighter?

Make more putts?

Have you considered snake oil?

Pity the 12 American Ryder Cup players, vice-captains and even former captains who will be subjected to 24 months of how-do-we-regain-the-Ryder Cup suggestions. The man in for biggest earful? Steve Stricker, the likely 2020 leader at Whistling Straits and vice-captain for the last two American efforts.

There isn’t much mystery to what induced the latest American loss on European soil, a run that will extend to 29 years now.

The golf course was masterfully rigged to mute America’s emphasis on distance over accuracy.

The greens were kept at a pace more typical of a European Tour event than a PGA Tour stop.

The Europeans looked more comfortable on a course they play annually.

Fans delivered home team energy that inspired clutch performances.

The Europeans appeared to be the more elastic team when it came to pairings while the Americans looked like they’d run out of gas.

“I feel like, you know, everyone on Tuesday felt tired, and then Wednesday, things started coming around,” U.S. captain Jim Furyk said, assessing a team that played at East Lake on Sunday, took a chartered red-eye and hunkered down at the Waldorf Astoria in Versailles and tried to regroup.

Physically, most of the players never looked right. Tiger Woods sounded like he was going to fall asleep mid-interview Saturday evening. Even a rested Jordan Spieth appeared spent after four emotional matches with Justin Thomas, suffering a Sunday blowout singles loss to Thorbjorn Olesen.

Stricker will not have to worry about similar fatigue in 2020. The PGA Tour playoffs will have been completed a month before the Ryder Cup. But as for building a team around a golf course, that’s always been a risky endeavor in the selection process.

We will never know how much Furyk was saddled by task-force influences that also put him in place as captain. Because as shrewd as the post-Gleneagles gathering of power players turned out to be in bringing symmetry to what was once a disheveled selection process for captains and team, it was Phil Mickelson’s role as task force founder that had him long penciled in for these matches even when it became apparent his inconsistent driving was a bad fit for Le Golf National. Only the task-force crowd — with a combined 63 losses between Furyk, Mickelson and Woods alone — will ever understand the thinking behind the oddball start to the sessions, where some teams better suited to foursomes went out in four-ball and the reverse occurred Friday afternoon, with only a few Day 2 adjustments. That mistake can only be chalked up to letting politics supersede common sense.

Maybe the real rhetorical question should be whether the time has come for a new task force to override the old task forces? Gwk

(Note: This story appears in the October issue of Golfweek.)

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