My Ryder Cup Team


36th Ryder Cup MatchesWhen Tiger Woods caddie Steve Williams slipped on the rocks Sunday at the K Clubs seventh hole, losing his balance and a grip on his bosss 9-iron in the process, perhaps we saw a symbol of what the United States has become in the Ryder Cup.
Simple as this ' the U.S.A has lost its balance in this event and its grip on what it takes to win. However, as I said on 'Live From The Ryder Cup' on Sunday night, the European team deserves far more credit than the United States deserves criticism.
Europe won it because they know how to play and they know how to relax. Period.
I will not question the talent of the U.S. players. I wont criticize their desire to win. I wont pile on Tiger or Phil for that matter. Bottom line ' we need them. I certainly wont harp on captain Tom Lehmans effort to make it all go right. Ive never seen a captain push all the right buttons and come up so empty (on either team.) It comes down to knowing how to do it when the bell goes off on Friday morning.
Before I submit my new-look Ryder Cup team for 2008, take to heart my thoughts about American disposition on the golf course in general. Our players struggle to smile and hug and back-pat and skip and jump and laugh. The emotion the Americans show seems so angry. Its fist pumps and gritting teeth and straight-lipped faces and steely eyes and a general feeling of 'us against them.'
When the United States makes a big putt, its a fist-bump ' not an arm-around-the-shoulder embrace walking to the next tee with a smile.
Do our guys look like a bunch of jolly good fellows? Off the course they might be ' on the course they struggle to come across that way. Europe has no problem acting that way or being that way.
Everyone has their theories. Nobody is a lock. I root for America as I should. Im hardly rooting against Europe, however. Theyre easy to embrace.
So lets make a new team. All bets are off. And for the sake of a balanced team with no superstars, were eliminating Tiger and Phil and Jim Furyk to come up with a hypothetical 12 who will take the course at Valhalla in 2008. The names are here for the criticism and the reason for selection is short and sweet.
Bottom line: what has been used hasnt worked. Ive got 12 captains picks to fix it:
Captain ' Larry Nelson
He deserves it. And recent cups have proven that a captain neednt be so in touch with the PGA TOUR.
Vice Captain ' Brian Hewitt (TGC)
Hes got a lot of vices. He might as well add this one. Plus, its always good to have a journalist in the teams corner for the proper spin.
Vice Captain ' Mark Cuban
Suddenly, theres no undue attention on the players is there?
Kenny Perry
My leader. Loose and fun. A perennial top 10 in driving distance, total driving and greens hit in regulation.
Jerry Kelly
My grinder. Tough as nails. His swing isnt the best. But his heart is among the best. Europe doesnt care about majors ' neither do I.
Pat Perez
Streaky hot, streaky mad, never seen a match he didnt want to win. Remember ' star power is out the window. Were there with a team that has no scouting report.
Scott Verplank
Third in driving A\accuracy, ninth in putting average. In play and in the hole. That works right? He didnt get enough run at this years Cup. Hed be out there plenty on my team.
Chris DiMarco
Forget what happened at the K Club. Ill take my chances. Hes a team room guy. Hes a teammate. Period. Hell hug a guy until he cries. End of discussion.
Bart Bryant
Every team needs an over-achiever. Bryant drives it great (sixth in accuracy in 2005) and has just the right chip on his shoulder. Hes no star but hes been a survivor.
Olin Browne ' eighth in driving accuracy this year; fourth last year. Brownes been to Q-school enough to have a Masters degree. Another tough you-know-what. If a match was all-square after 18 ' hed demand extras.
J.J. Henry
He proved plenty to me at the K Club. Plus, hes just a darned good ball-striker. He smiles a lot, too, and he begins my run of nice guys who dont like to finish last.
Steve Stricker
Ive always liked Stricker. Go ahead, tell me he cant drive it well. Fine. Hes fourth in putting right now, second to Tiger Woods in scoring average (ahead of Furyk and Mickelson), and fifth in the all-around category. Remember, he started the year with NO EXEMPT STATUS and right now sits 31st in money. In the running for nicest guy on PGA TOUR.
Brett Quigley
He can make you laugh. He smiles a lot and he can play. Never appreciated, hes suddenly 20th in money. Hey Brett ' theres Sergio ' go get him!
Lucas Glover
Soft spoken southern boy with a good old heart and a whole lot of game. Sure he struggled when the pressure was on to make the team, but I tell him there is no pressure ' just go play. He can play. Hed be a terrific partner.
Ben Crane
In 2005 he was third in putting average and ninth in scoring average. Hes No. 1 (sorry Ben) in slow play. Which is exactly why I put him out first in every session to set the tone for the day. Get em riled up Ben ' its OK with me.
If anyone gets hurt and cant go, Ive got birdie machine Ryan Palmer on call and good guy Joe Durant on speed dial, too. Durant leads the PGA TOUR in driving accuracy, hits a ton of greens. Everyone likes Durant. That works, too.
For the record, Michael Jordan is not allowed to watch. Ill give his tickets to Charles Barkley. Michaels rings would put too much pressure on my team. Barkley doesnt have one. Hell make us laugh and theres no chance hell try to pull an American player aside with a swing tip.
Folks, weve got two years to figure out the right formula to get the Ryder Cup back. I give you two days to get back to me with a better roster. Remember, the best team America could come up with for the last two Ryder Cups has managed to be outscored 37-19.
Good luck.
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann