The days of shiny, happy American leadership at the Ryder Cup are done. Or at least they’re on hiatus, taking a seat on the bench in favor of a more gruff, blunt team of captains this year.
In previous years, the PGA of America has named a captain who is still very active on the PGA Tour’s weekly schedule. On the occasions when he is slightly removed from that life, the vice captains have often fallen in line, with many able to provide ear-to-the-ground rumblings to the man in charge about what’s happening amongst the potential roster in the locker rooms and on the practice greens each week.
It’s no secret that strategy hasn’t been working lately, with the U.S. side winning just once so far in this millennium. And so we’ve now seen an abrupt change – so far, at least – with the captain and his two assistants all well beyond their regular playing days.
We knew that was the case when Tom Watson, who will be 65 at the time of the competition, was named to the position. And his announcement of Andy North, who will be 64, as the first assistant captain last summer only enhanced that perception.
But Tuesday’s news that Watson had named Raymond Floyd, who will be 72 when the first tee shot is fired at Gleneagles, as his second assistant once again pounds home the point that this is not your father’s Ryder Cup. Depending on your age – we’re looking at you, Jordan Spieth – it might be more like your grandfather’s Ryder Cup.
Hey, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Think about it: Who would inspire more passion from you, in your chosen profession, as a leader? One of your peers with whom you work on a weekly basis? Or a more experienced leader from a previous generation?
American players wanted to win so badly two years ago in part because they all liked Davis Love III. They’ll want to win badly this year in part because they fear Watson and his consiglieres.
Floyd’s inclusion brings yet another no-nonsense, fire-and-brimstone personality into the mix. As one of my colleagues said of the announcement, it’s like Vince Lombardi naming George Halas to his staff prior to a Super Bowl.
There won’t be any good cop-bad cop in the team room, nor will there be a more lenient parent. So far, this is a staff built on brusqueness and brutal honesty. After so many years of watching the European side claim the trophy, it’s a strategy well worth implementing.