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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

And the 2016 Ryder Cup Captains Are...

...apparently already chosen, although we won't officially know the Euro captain until tomorrow and the USA captain next Tuesday. The names have already made it out of the rumor mill -- even though the PGA says it's "too early" to discuss Ryder Cup captains. (Question: Do they really think that will suddenly make their choice become a surprise next Tuesday? I guess I'll never understand corporate minds.)

Darren ClarkeDavis Love III

On the Euro side, the word is that Darren Clarke -- who was the favorite of the media to be chosen anyway -- really will get the nod. Politics are involved, as they always are in the Euro camp, but supposedly Paul McGinley has the deciding vote and he has decided to back Clarke after all. (Again, the word is that there was some bad blood between them stemming from the process that made McGinley captain at the last Ryder Cup.)

Personally, I expect the Mechanic to make the team so I doubt that he'll be too disappointed by this turn of events.

On the American side, word came out late Monday that Davis Love III would be the next captain -- shocking most observers, who believed that Fred Couples would get the nod. Based on the talk during Golf Central, it seems that Love was chosen as part of a 10-year plan to get a "captain grooming school" started, similar to the one used by the Euros.

The talk at GC was that Love would be the captain, with Tom Lehman, Steve Stricker, and probably Fred Couples as his assistants. Lehman and Stricker are from that part of the country (Wisconsin and surrounding area), and Lehman's previous experience as captain will allow him to help with the training process. Stricker already has one Ryder Cup assistant captaincy under his belt as does Couples, who also has Presidents Cup experience.

There was also some question about why Paul Azinger isn't more involved. Tim Rosaforte (who broke the story) said he expected Love to tap him for pod system advice, but I think the real reason Zinger wasn't mentioned as part of the formal process is simple. While Zinger is a good captain he can be, shall we say, a bit "abrasive." Look at the players expected to head this 10-year project; do any of them have a personality anywhere near as confrontational as Zinger's?

I don't mean that Zinger is hard to get along with, only that he's a bit more "publicly vocal" than the other players named to the 2016 captaincy. It seems pretty clear that the task force chose low-key personalities to front the new look of America's future Ryder Cup teams.

Assuming that the "advance announcements" we've heard are accurate, it looks like the 2016 Captains will be fun to watch as they go about the business of photo ops and media events leading up to the Cup itself. Clarke and Love have been friends for years so it should be a relatively casual process for both.

But more importantly, I hope the US players will come ready to win some points for their new Captain. While I agree that having a more consistent style of leadership is a good thing, I don't think that takes the place of good course management during the matches. They lose too many holes to par and, in my opinion, that's still the biggest issue for the US team. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

The photos came from the player's profiles at

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