Fan Mail for Captain Tom

By Jerry FoltzAugust 16, 2006, 4:00 pm
Dear Tom,
Remember that time back in 1991 when we were playing the final round in Boise on the then-Hogan Tour? Remember when I beaned the spectator on the 16th hole and couldnt gather the nerve to hit the next shot? Remember when you noticed how shook-up I was and put an arm around me to let me know that things would be all right and that he was already joking with his friends as the paramedics arrived? Remember how I birdied the next two holes and then displayed my complete incompetence by skulling (no pun intended) a sand wedge over the last green to bogey and miss the playoff by one?
Well, since then Ive made a remarkable career out of incompetence, and since then, youve made a remarkable career out of the grit, wisdom, and selflessness you displayed to me that day. Its the wisdom I want to appeal to, and the selflessness I want to bypass.
Dean Wilson is a wonderful man and a true feel-good story. What he accomplished last week in defeating you for his first PGA TOUR victory was remarkable. But I must be honest; Ive never rooted against a friend more than I was on Sunday evening. I so desperately wanted Dean to lose so you could win and be faced with your toughest decision in this whole Ryder Cup hoopla. You would have been forced to field a team that wasnt as good as it should have been. Thats assuming, of course, that what you said this week was accurate. You know'that statement about not playing even if you made the team.
Let me get straight to my point here.
If anybody else was captain, and I mean anybody, theres absolutely no way they wouldnt pick you. And I think you owe it to your team, to your fans, to all golf fans, to yourself, and for that matter, to Ed Gordon (the aforementioned header victim in Idaho), to reconsider. Whether or not you qualify for the team this week, you should be on it. You need to be on it'and not just as captain.
When Ben Crenshaw had a feeling, his feeling involved you. You were a captains pick for his team'a team that was like three touchdowns behind going into the two-minute-warning and whod he give the ball to? You. And whatd you do with it? Well, if I remember right, you hit 16 consecutive greens, applied your foot firmly to the throat of Lee Westwood, and set the pace for the day by winning 3-and-2 in the opening match of the day. What followed was a piece of golf lore forever, and you authored the foreword, opening chapter, and epilogue.
Ben had a feeling, all right; he had a feeling that the best man in the world for the job was you. If you dont win that match, his feeling would have been recorded in history as optimistic, delusional, or simply indigestion. But you won.
Yes, it was seven years ago and you were only 40 years old, but you didnt make any more putts then than you do now. You cited your putting ability as the reason why you wouldnt play this year, but selflessness doesnt win Ryder Cups. In my opinion, the most selfless thing you could do this year is to pass the torch to Corey if you think that a playing captain would be too much of a distraction. Given the inexperience of Nos. 7 through 10 in the current standings and your stated desire to offset that with your picks, only Love and Couples are ahead of you in the standings with more experience'and both would be great picks. But you would be better. You are the only one of the three with a winning overall record in past matches.
The whole point is to get the players who are playing the best, and absent something remarkable this week out of Freddie and Davis, I think that question is already answered.
Davis hasnt earned any points since February, and Freddie since the Masters. You lost in a playoff, last week.
You probably should have been picked for the 2002 team. You were 11th in the standings when Curtis Strange announced his picks in 2001. In 04, you werent in the running, but Jay Haas was picked, and although he only scored 1 points, it was more than four members of your current team: Campbell, Furyk, Mickelson, and Toms.
Is 47 too old to be picked? Raymond Floyd didnt pick himself in 89 when he was captain at the age of 47, and that year Europe retained the Cup. But, he was 49 when Dave Stockton picked him, and he won 2 out of 4 points in that epic battle at Kiawah Island in 91. Better yet, he was 51 when Tom Watson picked him two years later and he won three points in a successful American defense. And lest we forget, Haas was 50 the last go-round.
Do we need experience to offset some of the rookies? Thats your call, and I think that the PGA of America picked the perfect man to figure that out. But if you decide that we do, I urge you to look in the mirror Sunday night and do that which the PGA did when they named you captain'pick the perfect man for the job.
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    3rd – 9 points

    4th – 7 points

    5th – 6 points

    6th – 5 points

    7rd – 4 points

    8th – 3 points

    9th – 2 points

    10th – 1 point

    Vare Trophy

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