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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Some Thoughts on the NEW Ryder Cup Debate

Yes, it's still 18 months away and we're still talking about it..

You probably heard the latest controversy concerning the Ryder Cup -- that is, the fact that the 2015 Fall Series events don't count against the points totals on the Ryder Cup Qualifying List. Since I don't really have a dog in this fight, I thought I'd look at some of the things that haven't been mentioned...

Or at least I haven't heard them.

The Ryder Cup

Tim Finchem is now on record, saying that he "whiffed" by not insisting on the Fall Series contributing points. Phil Mickelson is likewise on record for saying that this was about getting the best team, not stroking the sponsors' egos. (I'm ignoring all the other stuff Phil said, as it was irrelevant to the Ryder Cup issue.)

So who's right?

Ironically, I find myself agreeing with John Feinstein, who told GC that he thought points were a useless complication anyway. Here's my take on the system:

First, I don't think Finchem "whiffed," he's just working on a different timeline than the Task Force did. The system is (for now) set up so that points are awarded by year, not season. In 2015 the points are only awarded at the big events like majors and WGCs, while every event in 2016 gets points. This gives points primarily during an 8-month period, meaning the hottest players will get points.

If you want to get the hottest players, 8 months may still be too long; 6 months would be better, 3 months even more so. However, you'd need a better system than points to separate the best players over such a short span. Feinstein suggested 12 captain's picks, and that would probably be the simplest way to get it done... but nobody's going to go for that. There would be too many accusations of favoritism.

Bear in mind that only 8 players will automatically qualify. Essentially the 8 players who top out on the points list will likely be the players who would have made the team anyway, whether by points or by captain's choice. The remaining 4 choices will literally be the hottest players, who probably wouldn't have enough points even over a 2-year period. That's a full third of the team. I suspect the Captain will look at play during 2015, particularly the Fall Series, to help him determine which of the hot players might be more likely to stay hot because of more consistent play over time. It's just that such early play won't skew the points away from the hottest players at Ryder Cup time.

Of course, the PGA has said that this is just the system that will be used for the 2016 Ryder Cup, and that it will be analyzed after the event to see how effective it was. Then the system will be tweaked if necessary, which sounds like a levelheaded approach to developing a system from scratch.

In other words, this is a non-issue. All it's going to do is provide ammunition for those who say the Task Force was an emotional response to yet another US loss. This could get old real quick...

But don't worry. We'll have a new issue to debate next week. After all, there's still 18 months to fill before there's any real data to analyze... and even if nobody else has anything to say, I'm certain that Phil will give us something new very soon. ;-)

1 comment:

  1. Golf's return to the Olympics also affected the schedule, so fall events, particularly, will still have a role