European captain Mark James faced a trying decision days before the 1999 Ryder Cup. "Robert Karlsson or Andrew Coltart?" James recalls of his final captain's pick. "I went for Coltart but only after days of torment." Soon after, James checked himself into a hospital, his arms covered in blisters. "It was shingles," he says, "brought on by stress." And so it goes in the gut-grinding, nerveshredding, shingles-inducing world of a Ryder Cup captain, a job that requires equal parts steel, strategy and serenity. Think the responsibility is overrated? "You're smoking something," says Dave Stockton, who captained the U.S. to a onepoint victory in 1991. "An individual can't win the thing," he says. "The nearest thing to it is the captain." But don't sweat it, Zinger. Here, from eight captains.with eight wins among them.is every tip, tactic, do and don't you need to win a Ryder Cup without losing your mind. (Tip #1: Don't share this with Faldo.)
The Contributing Captains:
• Tony Jacklin, 1983 (lost), '85 (won) '87 (won), '89 (halved)
• Seve Ballesteros, 1997 (won)
• Mark James, Europe, 1999 (lost)
• Bernhard Langer, 2004 (won)
• Billy Casper, 1979 (won)
• Dave Stockton, 1991 (won)
• Tom Watson, 1993 (won)
• Ben Crenshaw, 1999 (won)
CRENSHAW: "My counterpart in '99, Mark James, said, 'Look you give them a candy bar and a sandwich and you tell them to play well.' You don't want to tell them too much. Don't overboil it."
Play your rookies early
JAMES: "It was a big risk not to play my three rookies (Jarmo Sandelin, Jean Van de Velde and Andrew Coltart) before the Sunday singles, [especially because] the crowd was turning hostile and those who had already experienced the atmosphere were better equiped to cope with it. We had a four-point lead going into Sunday, but the three untried rookies were paired against three of the strongest U.S. players (Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III and Tiger Woods). That's the one decision I still think about."
Be prepared to improvise
WATSON: "Before I became captain, I talked with Roy Williams [then the basketball coach at the University of Kansas]. I told him I had never coached a team before. I'm an individual player, now I'm supposed to be here coaching a team. And he said: 'This is what I do. I prepare them as best I can. I get the match-ups correct. I have a strategy on offense and defense. Then five minutes into the game, I throw that out and coach by the seat of my pants.' And that's what you have to do, and that's what I did."
Don't be a dictator
LANGER: "You can lead with love or fear. I would much rather lead with love. Put yourself in their shoes and find out what they like and don't like."
Don't be afraid to bench your stars
BALLESTEROS: "Somebody always has to be left out. Ian Woosnam has always been a great champion and one of the best players I have seen over the years. But in that particular week he wasn't in his best form, and I thought it was not a good idea to put him in some of the matches. I understand that he was not comfortable with my decisions but as captain I had to put the best players out for the matches."
Remind them what the Cup is about
CASPER: "I told Azinger to instill in the players the vision of the Ryder Cup. He needs to play some of the old matches and the [comments] and feelings of the players, what they thought of the Ryder Cup. These guys today don't have the vision of what the
Don't stand for showboating
JACKLIN: "Those stupid bloody Desert Storm hats at Kiawah [in 1991] were provocative. And I think I would have drawn the line before wearing a cowboy hat like Hal Sutton [in 2004]."
STOCKTON: "The one thing I wouldn't do again is have the players wear the camo hats. The Gulf War was going on, and the media started calling the tournament the War by the Shore. That was unfortunate, and I had some control over that."
CRENSHAW: "A good captain is a good listener. You have to listen to what the players and the caddies say. They're reacting to the golf course and breaking it down. I was all ears the whole week."
Pair players who will
inspire one another
JACKLIN: "Lee Trevino said it doesn't matter who you pair with whom. What nonsense. I said in 1985 that you had to match up guys who feed off each other. If the personalities don't gel, they won't work as a team."
Pairing strategy depends on the
format of play
STOCKTON: "In best-ball, I wanted somebody who I could let go nuts and play hard and make birdies. I'd pair them with someone who was more consistent and could grind out pars. You can't put two long hitters together. In alternate shot, you have to pair players who are alike."
Play your best players early
JACKLIN: "The best players were always put out last. But by 1985, I remember thinking, 'What bloody use is Seve to me in the anchor spot if we've already lost?' I stacked the strength of the team right in the middle of the order. It worked."
... but also save a couple
of them for last
CASPER: "I wanted some good players in front, some good players in back, and mediocre players in the middle. Why? If you're winning a couple matches in the beginning, you've got some padding. And if you lose some of the middle matches, you can still finish strong."
Take care of your guys
JACKLIN: "I took the captain's job in 1983 on conditions: I wanted to fly on a Concorde because the American team always flew first-class and we sat in bloody economy. We weren't allowed to take caddies, we had no team room nor a team uniform. One year they even gave us plastic shoes. The Americans had everything. That had to change. In 1985, I said the players would only do one cocktail party and one formal dinner. I was there to win the bloody Cup, not make friends."
Play to the media
STOCKTON: "I think I was much better with the media as a captain. If someone called me, I'd return calls and be frank with them and tell them what was I going to do. I had fun with that."
Don't take yourself too seriously
CRENSHAW: "It's the players who win it. The captain certainly points out things they can do better. He can see what clubs players are hitting, help them choose clubs on par-3s and create a confident framework for them to play in. But it comes from the players. The captain has to just let them do their work.