THE NEXT CAPTAIN AMERICA
VAN SICKLE: Who would you like to see captain the U.S. team in 2014? If the PGA of America isn't going to consider giving Paul Azinger an encore, I vote for Fred Couples, who has taken over the Presidents Cup.
SHIPNUCK: Does Fred even want the job? The Presidents Cup looks like fun. The Ryder Cup looks like a hassle. Fred probably would've had the chance if he had put his hand up sooner.
ANONYMOUS PRO: Is it too late for Larry Nelson? Seriously, I'd try to get Fred off that Presidents Cup bus. He has that laid-back demeanor, but he has a lot of pride and fire beneath it. It would be right up his alley, and, honestly, it's time to graduate from the Presidents Cup to something bigger. The Presidents Cup is a reality show, made-for-TV golf. The Ryder Cup has history and prestige and nationalism. Fred has earned a promotion.
SHIPNUCK: I'd go to Mickelson and Jim Furyk and say, Be honest, guys. Which of you isn't going to make this team in two years—you're the next captain.
VAN SICKLE: Wouldn't Phil love the challenge and attention of being a playing captain?
SHIPNUCK: Absolutely. He'd be all over that.
ANONYMOUS PRO: Why not Tom Watson again? He's not too old. Or Azinger? I don't know why the PGA of America has a problem with guys' being captain a second time. How many times did Tony Jacklin do it? That worked out pretty well. I was irritated when Azinger didn't get asked back for 2010.
BAMBERGER: Watson and Couples are inspired choices, but I'd ask Tiger. Being captain would force him to see the game through a new prism and see his peers in a whole new way. It would be good for him, and I think he'd be spectacular.
GARRITY: I'd pick the next captain by lottery. For assistant captain, I nominate the Magic 8-Ball. I don't buy into the whole captaining thing—the winner is hailed as the greatest mind since Christopher Hitchens, and the loser is led away in handcuffs. It's all nonsense.
THE WINNER IS ...
SHIPNUCK: I like the depth of the U.S. team. It's important because I could see Furyk and Mickelson playing only three matches each. They used to play five. More guys will get more at bats.
VAN SICKLE: Tiger may not play five times, either.
SHIPNUCK: The depth and the home crowd will make this a fantastic Ryder Cup that comes down to the last putt. It'll be supertight, then Tiger nips Rory in the last match and the U.S. wins 14½-13½.
GARRITY: I agree with Alan that the teams are evenly matched. So I'm picking a tie. I asked my Magic 8-Ball if it would be a tie, and the answer was, You can rely on it. So that makes it a certainty.
SHIPNUCK: A tie isn't really a tie. The Europeans keep the cup, so it's a victory for them.
GARRITY: You asked for a score. I'm saying 14-14.
VAN SICKLE: This thing is always a putting contest, and I think the Americans have a rare edge in that department. The Euros have Colsaerts, a big hitter; Paul Lawrie, who looks like Ernie Els on the greens; Sergio, whose putting woes have been documented although his claw stroke is improved; Francesco Molinari, a blocky putter; and Westwood. If you have a five-footer to save your life, they aren't your best options.
BAMBERGER: Two very ordinary putters, Sergio and Monty, putted like Bobby Locke in the Ryder Cup year after year. You can't predict.
VAN SICKLE: True. I'll still take the U.S., 15-13, even if my pick is based only on Keegan Bradley's enthusiasm.
ANONYMOUS PRO: Well, the Americans have two belly putters and one claw grip in the lineup. Matt Kuchar isn't putting so great. Neither is Furyk, and if Dustin Johnson had a three-footer to win the Ryder Cup, would you bet on him to make it? I think the Americans will struggle, but they'll pull out a 14½-13½ win.
BAMBERGER: The true stars on both teams will play like stars and cancel each other out. The celebrated journeymen—your Luke Donalds, your Jim Furyks—will play like celebrated journeymen and cancel each other out. The rookies are the key. If Bradley, Dufner, Snedeker and Webb Simpson play nervous golf, the U.S. cannot win. I think Davis Love shows his exceptional people skills with those four, and they will win more than they lose. That will be enough. The U.S. survives by a point.