When the PGA of America announced the formation of the 11-man Ryder Cup task force, one name was notably absent: Paul Azinger, the only victorious U.S. captain since 1999.
Instead, the organization tabbed a combination of current players (Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk and Rickie Fowler), former captains (Davis Love III, Raymond Floyd and Tom Lehman) and PGA officials (Derek Sprague, Pete Bevacqua and Paul Levy).
Azinger said Wednesday that he declined an invitation to immediately join the task force, but also left open the possibility that he could be a part of the process in the future.
“I didn’t say no,” he said on Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive”, “I said not yet. I think everything is going too fast. It’s just too soon to make that kind of decision when emotions are involved.”
Azinger said that he hasn’t yet met Sprague, the incoming PGA president, and has only spoken on the phone with Bevacqua, the PGA’s CEO. The 2008 captain said that he was hesitant to initially be part of a task force when he didn’t know the structure of the group.
“I just didn’t want to jump on a task force right away,” he said. “Let’s just slow down a Mach.”
Video: Azinger discusses Ryder Cup task force on 'Morning Drive'
Azinger, however, said that he is scheduled to meet with PGA of America officials in early November and hopes that he’ll be able to provide a “bridge” between the organization and the players. Unlike in Europe, in which the 12-man roster competes for the European Tour, Azinger said there is a “disconnect” between the PGA and the modern pro – one of the many criticisms in the wake of Tom Watson’s recent captaincy.
Surprisingly, Azinger also said that he hasn’t been consulted by the PGA following his team’s victory in 2008.
“Not really, no,” he said. “No, they haven’t. That’s part of the problem, I feel, is that we have guys coming in individually every couple of years and the players who are repeat players have to adjust to a new guy’s leadership style.”
That’s not the case in Europe. Paul McGinley, for example, apprenticed under Jose Maria Olazabal in 2012 at Medinah before accepting the captain’s gig two years later. Olazabal, in turn, was an assistant under McGinley. Many believe that continuity is a significant reason why Europe has won six of the past seven Ryder Cups, and eight of the last 10.
“I love the idea of the task force addressing these problems,” Azinger said. “I think it’s a great way for players to have an actual voice. … I haven’t said no to the task force. I just said not yet.”