This Years Ryder Cup Cant Have Next Years Face


In a perfect world, time would virtually stand still and the 2001 Ryder Cup would proceed in 2002 as if a year hadnt really passed. Starting with No. 1 Tiger Woods and ending with No. 10 Stewart Cink, Americas top golfers would remain exactly the same as they are today. None of the young guys would proceed at the accelerated pace expected of them. None of the old guys would show signs of age further creeping up on them. We would have the event exactly as it would have been back in 2001, and the world could then get back to the more important business at hand.
That is what has been decreed. Ryder Cup 2001 will be played in 2002, and every thing is the same as it would have been this year - same coach, same players, same uniforms.
The reality one year from now, unfortunately, will be quite different. Woods will still be No. 1, but after him, there really isn't much telling. The Ryder Cup will go on, though, exactly as it would have had it been held this year. That is the way Curtis Strange, Sam Torrance and PGA head Jim Awtrey wants it, and its a fitting tribute to the mind-numbing events of Sept. 11.
The reality of the situation, however, is that professional golf could be quite different a year from now.
The deal cut was the best way, perhaps, to get through a very bad situation. The captain ' Strange ' had been chosen two years ago. He had put in countless hours preparing for the event. To deny him the chance to coach a Ryder Cup team would have been unthinkable. He could have slid to 2003, admittedly, but that would have left Paul Azinger, Hal Sutton, Corey Pavin, Fred Couples, Tom Lehman, Davis Love, Mark OMeara, etc., as the odd man out in the race to be captain. The PGA doesnt normally pick captains who are over 50, so that already leaves a couple of those 40-somethings on the outside looking in. To expect Curtis to hang on for two more years, after he has already been captain for two years, is too much to ask.
To cancel the event entirely seemed almost unthinkable, considering the millions (billions?) of dollars that it generates, both on this side and the other of the Atlantic Ocean. So ' cancel the Ryder Cup until 2003? I hardly think so.
But this grand scheme isnt very workable, either. At the very least, two or three very deserving men are going to have to go fishing come next September. It is too much to expect for our gents in their 40s to continue the good years.
Scott Hoch will be 46 when the 2001 Ryder Cup finally gets around to being played near the end of the 2002 season. Mark Calcavecchia, Sutton and Azinger will all be 42. Scott Verplank will be a 39-year-old rookie. Davis Love III will be 38. The American team will definitely be long of tooth.
Its most unfortunate that there will be nothing for the other guys to play for next year. Next year was supposed to be the Presidents Cup, but it, too, has been put back a year. Charles Howell is likely to have big year. Or Bryce Molder or David Gossett, two other young guys. Too bad - they will just have to take their putters and go sit in the corner while we finish 2001s business.
Chris DiMarco? Justin Leonard? Lehman? Nope. They, too, wont have a chance until 2003, when they might make the Presidents Cup team. Lehman almost assuredly wont have another chance at a Ryder Cup ' he will be 45 in 2004 when the next squad will be chosen.
Is there any way to make this Ryder Cup fair for everyone? No, certainly not. But maybe there is a better way. Make this qualifying period last three years instead of two. Leave the points as they are. And allow Strange two new picks when next season rolls around.
If a Howell or a DiMarco can make the team, so be it. If a Lehman or a Leonard can regain the old magic, dont they deserve the honor? But if this years team can tread water another 12 months and make the squad as it stands in 2002, then more power to them. And they would have a definite edge since they have already qualified for the 2001 team, which would be two-thirds of the way there.
Ryder Cup 2001 will never be perfect, except in the 2001 season. It might be okay at the beginning of 2002, but at the end of 2002? Hardly.
To merely postpone this years matches until 2002 presumes something enormous. There is no right way to do it. There is, however, something of a fair way. Give the 2002 matches a 2002 face. The year 2001 is gone. Dont do something inequitable by merely brushing on a little makeup and pretending an entire year isnt going to happen.
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