Do Ryder Cup Captains Matter? Probably Less Than You Think

Thursday September 8th, 2016
Paul Azinger was the winning captain of the 2008 Ryder Cup. But did his strategy really matter? What did he do correctly?
Kohjiro Kinno // Sports Illustrated

Today's Ryder Cup teams consist of 12 players, a slew of vice captains and one man standing at the helm of the ship, leading it as the captain. But does he matter?

If he does, how much does the captain matter? It's a line of questioning that has become relevant recently with the publishing of "The Captain Myth: How the Ryder Cup is Won." Journalist Richard Gillis' book dissects the influence of captains before, during, and after the event. Gillis joined the GOLF.com Podcast Thursday to discuss the book and theories included in it.

Gillis concludes that the captain role is often given more credit than it deserves, as well as more blame than it deserves. Momentum doesn't matter. Being considered the underdog does matter. And likely what matters most of all is just plain luck. The media, fans' desires, and our overarching love of storytelling is the background for many myths that surround the modern captaincy.

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"It is very difficult, if not impossible, to tell who is an American player and who is a European player," Gillis said. "They're a bit like cars and a bit like mobile phones; they’re all the same, and we resort to storytelling to tell the difference. The captain is the key storytelling device."

Gillis explains those many things, as well as why Paul Azinger should NOT captain again, in the podcast below.

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