Last Week for Sutton to Ponder Picks


Hal Sutton has no doubt pondered the question for any number of long, sleepless nights. The Ryder Cup may very well be at stake here. The U.S. every other year goes into the matches as the favorite. But its been 12 years now, going into the sixth Cup matches, that America has won in foursomes.
Foursomes ' thats the high-falutin name for alternate shot. Sutton knows the U.S. record, and he knows that it stinks. This is the final week for players to get Ryder Cup points, the final week for players to make an impression on Sutton, and you bet your last Titleist that he is thinking about possible alternate-shot combinations as he goes down to the wire with all the possibilities.
Lets be honest - Sutton really doesnt know why Europe perennially outdoes the Yanks when it comes to this ultimate form of team play. Neither, for that matter, does any European.
The last Euro captain, Sam Torrance, figures the matches are a dead heat as the PGA Championship gets ready to begin. That, said Sutton, is the main reason why Europe has of late been superior in alternate-shot.
Everyone else would say that we are the strong group on paper, said Sutton. That's what we all talk about - on paper, the U.S. team looks stronger.
I think the U.S. kind of goes in there and they will wait on the right spot, like it will happen. Play long enough, it's going to happen. Instead of trying to seize the moment, take control of it immediately.
On the contrary, the Europeans going in there and they are trying to take control; they are trying to seize the moment. They have no moments to lose. They have to take care of every moment they have got and they have done that.
Hes probably right ' since, say, 1991, the U.S. has had superior talent. But the sum of the parts is not greater than the whole. And Sutton is painfully aware that they only count points on what is done that week. And nothing is quite as definitive as the way a team plays in alternate-shot.
You know, we see what's on the outside, Sutton said. We see whether they have got a good short game, we see if they are calculated. But there's a missing ingredient in this that we cannot see, and that's the will to win.
Sutton is apologetic for the Americans ' after all, he is one. Hes been a professional golfer for more than 20 years. Hes seen the big money on the U.S. tour force players into different schedules, different locations, different attitudes and latitudes from their fellow Americans. And he doesnt blame the players one bit. He just knows that it makes for 12 individuals composing a Ryder Cup team, instead of 12 team members.
We are all going to a different corporate outing or a different charity outing, he began. We are all boarding a different airplane going to a different spot, alone. We all have our own challenges within our own household. We are either not being the best husband or the best daddy we can be because we are being selfish and chasing our own dream.
You know, the Europeans tend to travel together a lot more. I really don't know their situation, other than I know they go out and eat dinner a lot more together. And there's no reason why we don't other than we are - you know, for instance I'll get to Denver at about 12:30 at night, and I won't be too interested in doing anything tomorrow night other than catching up on all the rest that I have been deprived of.
Hal Sutton and Bernhard LangerBut, I mean, it's that sort of life that we lead as Americans, and it's nobody's fault. It just the hand we are dealt and the way we have to do things.
Sutton lies awake at night fearing the worst ' good players wont play well, Europeans will play like its the last match of their life, or a crazy break here and there will decide the ultimate outcome. But one thing he has not feared in the least ' his decisions will be final. Make up your mind and dont look back.
Being decisive, he said - that is the one thing that will highlight his captaincy.
Absolutely. And the players have to be on board with my decision, too.
I mean, I need them to be only because - they may disagree with it when I finally make it, but then they have got to get on board with it after that. Because the task is still the same, and what's needed from each individual players hasn't changed. It's still to go make as many birdies as you can.
Thats the essence of the American captain, too. If they get beat ' and America has gotten beat fairly regularly of late ' it will be because Bernhard Langer and the Europeans play better that week. It may be because Captain Langer makes more winning decisions that week. But it wont be because Sutton is wishy-washy.
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