Who should be the next U.S. Ryder Cup captain?

By Ryan LavnerDecember 11, 2012, 4:18 pm

The PGA of America will announce the next U.S. Ryder Cup captain this Thursday on NBC's 'Today' show. There are a handful of candidates, but no favorites. Who should be the U.S. captain in 2014 at Gleneagles in Scotland? GolfChannel.com writers weigh in.


If only Tom Watson had made his recruiting pitch earlier.

On Sunday, the 63-year-old said that he would like to become the captain of the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team. Two days later, the PGA of America announced that the captain would be revealed this week.

Had Watson expressed himself earlier – in, say, August, like Larry Nelson – he likely would have increased his chances of landing the gig. Nonetheless, Watson said all the right things when asked about the opening.

“That would be cool,” he said.

“It would be a great honor,” he said.

And it would also be a proper tribute to one of the greatest players in the sport’s long history. Watson is an eight-time major champion. He won five Open Championships, four of which were held in Scotland, which conveniently enough is where the 2014 Ryder Cup will be contested (Gleneagles).

I know, I know. Watson hasn’t been a captain since 1993, but that just happens to be last time the Americans won a road Ryder Cup, at The Belfry. The man commands respect. He is a passionate leader. He is an eloquent speaker. He could devote himself fully to the task and represent the PGA with the class and dignity and grace.

And aren’t those characteristics precisely what the PGA desires?


This is a tough question, because I think the PGA of America needs to ask WHAT it wants before it can answer WHO it wants.

In the past, the Ryder Cup captaincy has been treated much like a pee-wee league tee ball game, with every player getting a turn to bat – well, every great player, that is (with the notable exception of men such as Larry Nelson and Hale Irwin). If the committee is going to continue in that direction, then the next obvious choice to step up to the plate is David Toms, a former PGA Championship winner who fits the mold and owns all the prerequisites for the job.

Even though the U.S. has lost five of the last six editions of the competition, I’m not one who thinks the sky is caving in just yet. In fact, I thought Davis Love III did a terrific job this past year, save for his pin positions on Medinah’s final two holes – though even that is the ultimate in Monday morning quarterbacking.

That said, if the PGA is insistent on getting back to its winning ways as opposed to giving everybody an opportunity, then the right man to lead them is the only one to win this century: Paul Azinger.

By forming a pod system and inspiring his players four years ago, Azinger was everything you could want in a leader. Now that his playing days are all but over, he has ample time to devote to the role, which in this scenario should last longer than 2014. That’s right – if the PGA really wants to break the mold and start a new trend, then its next captain shouldn’t serve just a two-year term, but it should be a long-term job much like national team coaches in other sports.

If that’s the direction they aim to go – and it certainly would break tradition – then Azinger would be the right man to hold the position for another decade.


Fred Couples won’t be the next American Ryder Cup captain, and he will probably never get the job. That will rank as an injustice almost equal to Larry Nelson being passed over.

Couples won’t get the job for silly political reasons. He won’t get the job as punishment for taking the job as U.S. Presidents Cup captain first. He won’t get the job because the PGA of America (Ryder Cup) and the PGA Tour (Presidents Cup) are rivals in the search for captains.

That’s a shame, and it’s just wrong, because Couples deserves the captaincy. Couples has all the credentials you want in a Ryder Cup captain. Plus, unlike everyone else who gets the job, he actually has winning experience as an American captain in international team events. He's a rare commodity in the American game today. He takes home team cups.

Couples has won 15 PGA Tour events, a major championship (Masters, 1992) and 18 Champions Tour events, two of them majors. He played on five American Ryder Cup teams with a 7-9-4 record. His qualifications go beyond that. His infectious swagger and ability to rally a cause as a team leader is clear in what he has done leading the Americans as captain to a pair of Presidents Cup titles.


It has always been a curious point of contention that every other year pundits inevitably refer to the Ryder Cup as a battle and each team’s captain as a commander, yet the U.S. side has blatantly ignored the one potential captain who has led men on a real battlefield.

For those of us who read tea leaves for a living, 65-year-old Larry Nelson’s turn at the captain’s chair seemed to have sailed in 1995 when Lanny Wadkins received the call, but as the American team’s stunning Sunday collapse this year at Medinah proved it’s time to shake things up and Nelson – who served as an infantry A-team leader in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive – would certainly qualify as an outside-the-box pick.

Whether Nelson’s leadership would be the tonic to wrest the U.S. team off of its 2-for-9 victory schneid in the biennial event remains to be seen, but what is not up for debate are his credentials.

The three-time major winner – including two PGA Championship tilts – has a 9-3-1 record in three matches and he has remained competitive on the Champions Tour when most players his age have turned their attention to golf course design or grandchildren.

The leadership of recent U.S. captains – Davis Love III, Tom Lehman, Corey Pavin, et al – isn’t up for debate. Nor is Nelson’s ability to lead. The rest is up to the PGA of America.


Well-liked and respected. Consistent player who often lets his game do the talking. Owner of a PGA Championship title among multiple Tour victories, and likely to still be relevant inside the ropes when the next Ryder Cup rolls around.

Sound familiar? It should. The description fits 2012 captain Davis Love III, and despite the Miracle at Medinah it should next apply to David Toms.

While Love took much of the fall for Sunday’s collapse, let’s not forget that while up 10-6 after two days, the world was triumphantly singing his praises. Is a single day of golf gone awry reason enough to scrap a selection process that yielded what, up until then, appeared to be an excellent captain? No.

Though rarely as bold or outlandish as some of his counterparts, Toms would bring a gritty, competitive streak to the matches in Scotland. At age 47 in 2014, he is still likely to be playing full-time on the PGA Tour – perhaps even contending, as evidenced by his T-4 finish at this year’s U.S. Open. Unlike the other options discussed here, Toms will have the next two years to form bonds and build relationships with prospective team members while playing alongside them on a weekly basis.

The delineation this past September between success and failure was razor-thin. And while the shortcomings of this year’s squad are well-documented, they can be learned from – and improved upon – without totally going back to the drawing board.

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Watch: Tiger throws dart, pours in birdie at 8

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 18, 2018, 7:31 pm

Starting Sunday five off the lead, Tiger Woods teed off his final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a laced 2-iron and a par at No. 1.

Woods hit the green at the par-3 second but left himself a 50-foot birdie putt and a 6-footer to save par, which we walked in.

A two-putt 4 at the par-5 fourth gave Woods his first birdie of the day and moved him to 8 under for the week. Apparently energized, Tiger pulled driver at the short par-4 fifth and unleashed this violent swing.

A pitch from the thick rough hit a sprinkler head and stopped on the apron, leading to this birdie try, which fortunately hit the pin but unfortunately didn't fall.

Looking to pick up another stroke - or two - at the par-5 sixth, Woods took his drive 317 yards over the water and hit this second shot from 227 yards to 13 feet, leading to another two-putt birdie when his eagle try burned the right edge.

Returning to his trusty 2-iron, Tiger found the fairway at par-4 eighth and then threw this dart from 176 yards to 6 feet and rolled in his third birdie putt of the day to move to 10 under.

(More coming...)

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Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Tiger TrackerMarch 18, 2018, 5:00 pm

Tiger Woods will start Sunday five off the lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. How will he follow up last week's runner-up? We're tracking him at Bay Hill.

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McIlroy: Time for Tour to limit alcohol sales on course

By Ryan LavnerMarch 18, 2018, 1:50 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Rory McIlroy suggested Saturday that the PGA Tour might need to consider curbing alcohol sales to stop some of the abusive fan behavior that has become more prevalent at events.

McIlroy said that a fan repeatedly yelled his wife’s name (Erica) during the third round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“I was going to go over and have a chat with him,” McIlroy said. “I think it’s gotten a little much, to be honest. I think they need to limit the alcohol sales on the course, or they need to do something, because every week it seems like guys are complaining about it more and more.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

“I know that people want to come and enjoy themselves, and I’m all for that, but sometimes when the comments get personal and people get a little bit rowdy, it can get a little much.”

This isn’t the first time that McIlroy has voiced concerns about fan behavior on Tour. Last month at Riviera, he said the rowdy spectators probably cost Tiger Woods a half-shot a round, and after two days in his featured group he had a splitting headache.

A week later, at the Honda Classic, Justin Thomas had a fan removed late in the final round.

McIlroy believes the issue is part of a larger problem, as more events try to replicate the success of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which has one of the liveliest atmospheres on Tour.

“It’s great for that tournament, it’s great for us, but golf is different than a football game, and there’s etiquette involved and you don’t want people to be put off from bringing their kids when people are shouting stuff out,” he said. “You want people to enjoy themselves, have a good day.”

As for a solution, well, McIlroy isn’t quite sure.

“It used to be you bring beers onto the course or buy beers, but not liquor,” he said. “And now it seems like everyone’s walking around with a cocktail. I don’t know whether (the solution) is to go back to letting people walking around with beers in their hands. That’s fine, but I don’t know.”

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Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders

By Randy SmithMarch 18, 2018, 2:45 am

PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.

She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.

Her confidence is high.

“Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”

Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.

Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.

“One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.

“I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”

Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.

“I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”

That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.