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Ryder Cup Roundtable

Ryder Cup

Editor's note: Rich Lerner sat down with Frank Nobilo and Steve Sands following the water-logged first day of the Ryder Cup in Wales.

Rich Lerner: It’s not close to being over but this is as bizarre as a Ryder Cup as I can remember, from the rain suit fiasco, to the [weather] delay, to the new format.

Steve Sands: The decision to change the format was progressive and brilliant.

Frank Nobilo: The nice thing is that everyone plays now. I always felt that if you get selected for your country or continent you should play. So now this is especially good for all the rookies. Whatever happens they will be involved.

Lerner: Who has the edge now?

Sands: U.S. in a big way. They’re deeper.

Nobilo: America does because their worst format is best ball. Now, not everybody has to play fourball. They all have to play alternate shot. Even though the point total is the same neither team can hide in alternate shot.

Lerner: It’s strange. Lousy weather usually favors the Euros but it turned out that it was so bad that America actually got a great break on Friday with the seven-hour delay.

Nobilo: Absolutely. They got off to their usual dismal start in fourball. But the weather was so lousy they had the chance during the delay to get some new weather gear and avoid the here-we-go-again mentality. In the last 12 cups they’ve won just one in three best-ball matches and they were on their way toward that again.

Sands: The Americans got a big break. They don’t play as well in adverse conditions as Europeans. They’re not used to playing golf with that many layers of clothes on.

Lerner: But the Europeans are actually playing in America these days. Does that hurt the Europeans in any way?

Nobilo: It does. They’re becoming more Americanized. Half your team is playing elsewhere.

Sands: How can it hurt to have Rory shoot 62 at Quail Hollow?

Nobilo: Look at it this way. Justin Rose played and won twice in America and didn’t get picked. So it already has hurt. And the seventh best player in the world, Paul Casey, didn’t make the team because he was playing in America and he didn’t get picked.

Sands: This is the last time you’re going to see the system the way it is.

Lerner: Corey Pavin’s getting picked on in some quarters because he’s not as glib as Monty. He also fumbled the Cink introduction because the sun blocked the name on the teleprompter. How’s Pavin’s captaincy so far?

Sands: That stuff aside, it’s too early to tell. They’re up 3-1 in the matches. You could make a strong case that it’s the most overrated position in sports. Tomorrow’s a big day though. There’s more emphasis put on the captains in terms of the choices they have to make with this altered format before the Sunday singles than any Ryder Cup I can remember.

Nobilo: My only issue as it relates to captains is that the PGA of America has never adequately explained why it bypassed Larry Nelson. He won two PGA Championships, a U.S. Open, had a phenomenal Ryder Cup record and on top of it all he fought for his country. I still scratch my head on that omission.

Lerner: The rain suit flub was really an embarrassment. Who’s to blame?

Sands: The PGA of America. The captain’s asked to pick it out, it didn’t work. He’s not a clothing manufacturer. The guy’s a professional golfer. It can’t be his fault. You could take issue with the design, which I thought was ugly.

Nobilo: I don’t know why you’d come to Europe and not use your European rain suit. European rain suits are typically thicker and warmer. Take your sweater off and you can play in it all day. It’s no secret that Europe’s performed well at home and there’s no reason to assume Europe would have anything less than the best suits. So why not do what they do. Why would you even risk not having the best wet weather gear when you know the chances of rain are rather high?

Lerner: Tiger’s blended in this week. He’s been almost under the radar. How’s he done so far?

Nobilo: I can’t figure out if he’s waiting for us to like him or what. The BBC ran a piece that was somewhat critical of Tiger for not giving in-depth or interesting answers, for just not saying much of anything. It’s kind of business as usual.

Sands: He’s okay. He’s hitting some nice shots. Made some putts. This event for him is about being comfortable. They gave him Steve Stricker, which he wanted.

Lerner: What are the keys going forward?

Sands: It’s a Ryder Cup, it’s a putting contest, always has been.

Nobilo: The first session isn’t even over. I mean, the Ryder Cup hasn’t really started. It’s been littered with all the crazy stuff, the unrelated stuff. But when you think about it’s only about an eighth of the way through.