Notes Miller no fan of captains picks


Ryder CupLOUISVILLE, Ky. ' Johnny Miller still thinks the U.S. will snap its losing streak to the Europeans, but the outspoken former PGA TOUR star turned commentator isnt a fan of Paul Azingers four captains picks.
Miller called Azingers selections of J.B. Holmes, Hunter Mahan, Steve Stricker and Chad Campbell OK but would have traded Holmes for a more veteran player like Scott Verplank.
I certainly wouldnt have gone with J.B. Holmes, I tell you that, said Miller.
Miller said he would have chosen Verplank, Rocco Mediate, Brandt Snedeker and 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson over Holmes and Campbell, but said his views are like arguing over favorite ice cream flavors.
Besides, for all the risk involved with picking lightly experienced players, Miller said the U.S. teams problems over the last 13 years have started at the top with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
The great play by (Jim) Furyk, Tiger and Phil has not been there, Miller said. Its why the U.S. has done so poorly. Those three players have really played poorly in Ryder Cup play.
The trio has a combined record of 25-37-8, though Woods will be watching this years Cup from home while he rehabs his surgically repaired left knee. That may be a good thing in Millers eyes.
Without Tiger there, it surely isnt going to be easy, but if youre a gambler or a statistician, you think How can Europe keep making all these putts?' ' Miller said. Its time for the U.S. If youre a betting man odds are putting is going to flip flop in the U.S.s direction.
The man was missing, but the message was not.
The U.S. team visited the Muhammad Ali Center on Monday night, but a meeting with the former heavyweight champion and Louisville native had to be rescheduled when weather prevented Ali and his wife Lonnie from making the trip from Michigan.
Instead the team toured the center, which opened in 2005 and traces Alis life, boxing career and humanitarian efforts. The tour begins with a brief video about Alis legacy based on the Rudyard Kipling poem If.
'Its about What if? and dreams, Azinger said. I thought that was an important message. Thats such an important perspective on his life, and its so vast; it reaches beyond sports and athletics. The players loved it. They loved being in there. I just thought it was a great place to start the week.
Its not the first time a captain has turned to an American icon to give the team a little boost. Future president George W. Bush read a note written at The Alamo to the 1999 team before it rallied to knock off the Euros at The Country Club in Brookline.
Justin Leonard called the visit inspiring, but doesnt think the U.S. needs to look outside for encouragement. The U.S. teams lackluster play ' losing five of the last six Cups, including some in embarrassing fashion ' is plenty enough.
I dont think that we as players need that for further motivation, Leonard said. I think the motivation is already there. But it just adds some memories to the week.
Azinger remains hopeful the team will get a chance to meet Ali later in the week, and Ali isnt the only luminary Azinger hopes can bring a little juice to the team. Azinger invited former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz to dine with the team on Tuesday.
Hell probably say a few words, its hard to get him not to, Azinger said.
The Americans can only hope to follow the example set by their junior team.
The U.S. romped to a 22-2 victory over Europe in the Junior Ryder Cup on Tuesday, winning at The Club at Olde Stone in Bowling Green.
The Americans built on their opening-day success in the foursome and mixed four-ball matches, winning 11 of the 12 singles points and earning a halve in the final match.
Cory Whitsett of Houston won his match, 6 and 5, over Matteo Manassero of Italy, and Jeffrey Kang of Fullerton, Calif., defeated Moritz Lampert of Germany, 4 and 3.
We wanted to play like the matches were zero-to-zero and just go out there and win as many matches as possible, Whitsett said.
Jeffrey Kangs singles point secured the victory for the U.S.
We really didnt feel any pressure out there today, Kang said. We were able to have fun and play our game.
The Americans only other victory came in 1997, when the it was known as the Junior Match and was not a PGA of America sanctioned event. The teams will play a nine-hole friendship match on Wednesday at Valhalla, site of the 2008 Ryder Cup.
Related Links:
  • U.S. Report Cards
  • European Report Cards
  • U.S. Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • European Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • Full Coverage - 37th Ryder Cup