Blog Faldo can hide rookies Azinger cant

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Ryder Cup GolfChannel.com will be filing daily blogs for the 37th Ryder Cup Matches. Follow along and chime in with your thoughts and opinions.
 
Sept. 18, 2008
by: Mercer Baggs,
Editorial Manager, GolfChannel.com

 
The first set of match-ups has been made public, but just as intriguing as whos playing whom Thursday morning, is who is not playing at all in the opening foursomes.
 
U.S. captain Paul Azinger elected to throw a couple of his rookies, Hunter Mahan and Anthony Kim, into the maelstrom, while European skipper Nick Faldo is tossing in just one of his, Justin Rose.
 
Azinger has to use at least two rookies per session. Hes got six of them on his 12-man team, three by his own selection. There are two positives to this, however: 1) His veterans havent been a source for too many points in the past. 2) The first-timers will be fairly seasoned come the Sunday singles.
 
On the other hand, Faldo has but four rookies on his squad (and none by his own choosing). He didnt have to use any of them at all until the singles, if he so desired. While Rose got the early call, I wouldnt expect to see much of Soren Hansen, Oliver Wilson or Graeme McDowell over the first two days. Hell likely play each of them at least once, just to get them a little experience before the determining day, but hes going to win or lose with his veterans.
 
If Europe builds and early lead Faldo will employ his veterans to increase the advantage; if they get behind hell use them to make up the deficit.
 
Expect Faldo ' even the Maverick that he is ' to follow the beat of his European captain predecessors: shield the rookies; work the veterans like rented mules.
 
That philosophy has worked quite well recently.
 
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Sept. 17, 2008
by: Mercer Baggs,
Editorial Manager, GolfChannel.com

 
Waiting for Azinger to Explode
 
Paul Azinger needs to have more press conferences, because its just a matter of time before he completely blows his top and starts breaking tables and bashing media members with steel chairs like hes in the WWE.
 
Give him credit: hes trying really, really hard to lay on the charm, but its just not thick enough to cover up his competitive, temperamental side ' particularly regarding this competition.
 
Take this exchange during Azingers Tuesday presser:
 
Q. Nick Faldo said that you had regretted your choice of vice captains. I just wonder, is that true?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: That he said it?
 
Q. Well, no (laughter). I know it's true that he said it.
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Do you think it's true that he said it?
 
Q. I think it is.
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Did you hear him say it?
 
Q. I did, actually.
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Did you ask him?
 
Q. No.
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Who asked him? Did someone hear him say it?
 
Q. Yeah, people heard him say it and reported it.
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Did you hear him say it?
 
Q. People heard him say it and reported it.
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Did you hear him say it? I question whether he said it, and if he did say it, it's completely not true.
 
Q. So why would he say it?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Go ask him.
 
Or this response to a question about the Americans performance in the last three Ryder Cup Matches:
 
Yeah, you know what, the past is the past. What difference does the past make to us? Those are different teams, different players, different course(s), different years, different times. We're looking now to the future. I don't care about the past. We know what the past is.
 
Sometimes the written word doesnt do justice the emotion in a persons voice. Such is the case with the aforementioned.
 
Just image what its going to be like if Europe is leading 6-2 after Fridays opening session, or 10-6 entering singles.
 
While Ben Crenshaw came into his Saturday press conference in 1999 all sappy and crying about fate, Azinger may come looking like Michael Douglas in Falling Down, with a Crew cut; black, horn-rimmed glasses; white short-sleeved shirt and tie; and an I-just-cant-take-it-anymore attitude.
 
Im not one to really root for either side (I dont consider giving up my citizenship when the U.S. loses an international competition). Usually, I just want a close contest ' something to keep me interested over the weekend.
 
This year, though, Ill be just as intrigued if the Europeans turn it into another rout. Ive never seen spontaneous combustion, but Ive heard its possible.
 
I thought it might happen to Hal Sutton. I think it could happen to Azinger.
 
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Sept. 16, 2008
by: Jay Coffin,
Editorial Director, GolfChannel.com

 
Should Have Gone With Daly and Rocco
 
So, the thought all along was that since Paul Azinger changed the U.S. Ryder Cup selection process, and awarded himself four captains picks, that at least one of those picks would come from way outside the proverbial box. Chad Campbell fit that scenario as he was selected from outside the top 20 in Ryder Cup points.
 
Now that Ryder Cup week is upon us, my theory from a couple weeks ago makes more sense. Azingers four picks should have been Steve Stricker, J.B. Holmes, Rocco Mediate and John Daly. Campbell and Hunter Mahan should have been replaced with Mediate and Daly.
 
That is outside the box.
 
Think about the excitement, think about the atmosphere, think about the Kentucky galleries ' which already will be going berserk with home state boys Holmes and Kenny Perry. With Rocco and JD in the mix there would be more hysteria than there would be if Tiger Woods was playing.
 
Take playing ability out of it for the moment. Its already been proven that people love Rocco and that the only thing they love more than Rocco is yelling the name Rocco. The U.S. Open is overwhelming proof of that. JD is a draw wherever he goes and nowhere else would he bond with the people more than in Kentucky, which is not too terribly far from his native Arkansas.
 
Take the atmosphere, add their personalities to the U.S. team room and it would justify the selections.
 
Neither Rocco nor Daly are slouches with clubs in their hands either. Mediate was considered for a pick as it was so his selection wouldnt be a stretch. He did, afterall, go toe-to-toe with Tiger at Torrey Pines.
 
Obviously, Daly comes with more baggage than a 747. But all Azinger would have to do is put him in a position to thrive, meaning leave him out of both foursomes sessions (alternate-shot and JD would be a terrible marriage), put him in both fourball sessions so he can play his own ball, then put him out first in Sunday singles to set the pace and rally the troops.
 
Who knows? Perhaps putting Daly in a team environment where he knows people are depending on him to produce would work better than the week-to-week individuality of playing the Tour.
 
There are four European rookies this year who seemingly will be in situations where theyll battle nerves. Who would be a more intimidating force to see on the first tee wearing the stars and stripes ' Hunter Mahan, Chad Campbell or John Daly?
 
John Daly, he would scare the lights out of half a dozen of the 12 players on our team, Padraig Harrington said earlier this year, just before he went on his major championship run.
 
Still think Im crazy?
 
Related Links:
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  • European Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • Full Coverage - 37th Ryder Cup