Captain Lehman Should Play


Let me make myself perfectly clear on this: Tom Lehman should be a playing member of his own Ryder Cup team.
I dont think thats going to happen unless Lehman wins the 88th PGA Championship that began Thursday morning at Medinah. And I dont think hes going to win this week even though he just missed last week in Colorado.
Fellow named Woods is also in the field here. And I dont think anybodys going to win except Tiger.
But already we have learned this week that a group of American players are lobbying hard with Lehman to remain on the team if he winds up in the top 10 on the point standings late Sunday.
And one prominent member of the European team, who has already secured his spot for the matches to be played in Ireland next month, told me Tuesday the Americans need Lehman on their team.
He would be feared, the Euro said of Lehman.
Lehman has a sound record in Ryder Cups, especially in singles.
But maybe the main reason I would like to see him be a playing captain is it would change the karma. The Americans just havent been getting it done with their tried and untrue formula. They have lost the last two and four of the last five Ryder Cups.
They need to do something different. Having a playing captain would be something different. So would having a handful of rookies on the squad. And it looks like thats going to happen. I have no problem with J.J. Henry, Vaughn Taylor and Zach Johnson wearing American uniforms at the K Club.
Despite what Padraig Harrington told me Monday at Medinah, the Europeans have to be the favorite. Harrington argued that one of these biennials Tiger Woods is going to play like the worlds best player. So far, Ryder Cups, he hasnt. His record is well below .500.
Meanwhile, heres another piece of advice for Captain Lehman. All along Lehman has talked about the importance of putting in Ryder Cups. Heres the first thing he should do when his team gets to the golf course the first day of Ryder Cup week:
Assemble them around the putting green. Hand a flat stick to his vice-captain, Loren Roberts. And make them all watch Roberts putt for 30 minutes. Nobody in the game has a better transition from backswing to forward swing with the putter than Roberts.
Its like Tom Watson used to say about playing in the same group as Ben Crenshaw: I try and putt like Crenshaw.
I think they call this skills transference, or some fancy name like that.
Anyway, Lehman, for better or worse, should be playing. Otherwise, the Euros might not have anything to fear but fear itself. And the latter has not bothered them a whit in recent Ryder Cups.
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