Azinger: U.S. can't have 'lone-wolf captains'

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The calls for Paul Azinger began shortly after the United States lost its third consecutive Ryder Cup on Sunday.

“We had a great formula in ’08,” Phil Mickelson said on the NBC telecast, “and I don’t know why we strayed from it.”

Turns out that remark was merely the opening salvo. Later, in an awkward team news conference, Mickelson openly questioned why players had no input on Tom Watson’s squad and called for a return to Azinger’s pod system that was so successful in 2008, when the Americans won for the first (and only) time since 1999.

On Sunday, when asked whether he was interested in the 2016 captaincy, Azinger told GolfChannel.com’s John Hawkins that he “can’t rule it out.”

He reiterated that stance again Monday, in an interview with USA Today Sports, and added that the United States needs to change its model for choosing captains.

“It is time for the PGA of America to recognize the great disconnect and formulate the same business model for selecting a captain as it does for selecting its president and officers,” Azinger said, according to the report. 

“The PGA of America has officers that move up the ranks, getting sage advice along the way. And then many of them stick around and keep offering advice. I think the PGA of America should recognize their business model is exactly the same as what Europe uses in selecting a captain.” 

The report points out that only two of the past 10 U.S. captains previously were assistant captains, including Azinger, who played on four teams before assuming the lead role in ’08. “We have lone-wolf captains,” he said.   

Meanwhile, the European players were effusive in their praise of captain Paul McGinley, who followed the script of Ryder Cups past – the template – on his way to leading Europe to its eighth win in 10 tries. 

“Europe consistently repeats a philosophy of leadership that every captain has learned from the captains in the past,” Azinger said, according to the report. It is an approach that is comfortable and familiar. The U.S. approach is less comfortable and completely unfamiliar to every repeat player. The players have to adjust to a complete unique system to the previous two years.”