Ryder Cup Confidential: Wisdom of Monday night deadline and schedule changes

Saturday October 2nd, 2010
Tiger Woods and the U.S. team are scheduled for a packed day of matches on Saturday.
Angus Murray

Every day this week, writers and editors from Sports Illustrated and Golf Magazine will address one pressing question about the Ryder Cup in a daily version of PGA Tour Confidential, our weekly roundtable discussion.

Jim Gorant, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: They've come up with a plan to try and finish all the matches by Sunday, but more rain is in the forecast. If they have to play on Monday, and can't finish all the matches by sundown, the captains have agreed to end the Ryder Cup, with completed matches standing and undecided matches declared halves, no matter the score. What do you think about the new plan, and the decision to end the Ryder Cup by Monday night, no matter what?

Rick Lipsey, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: Having a defined ending gives the event suspense and gives players a motive to make every shot count NOW.

Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: I don't have a problem with it. If this thing were to drag on to Tuesday, the interest would really wane. Even a Monday finish could be anticlimactic.

Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: It would certainly be strange, but I like it. In fact it would create a whole new dynamic in this thing, a potentially thrilling battle against the clock.

Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: I won't pretend to know the logic behind this captains' agreement to cut short the Ryder Cup, but it would be a travesty and a mighty blow to the integrity of the event if that should happen. Can you imagine the uproar if partially completed matches are automatically declared halves and only those that are concluded would count? That would be like calling a football game after three quarters. And such a result would not be the same as the sudden decision to call the 2003 Presidents Cup a draw. All the matches were completed in South Africa, and after several sudden-death playoff holes, calling it a draw was the sporting thing to do and the single moment that put the Prez Cup on the map. Arbitrarily aborting a Ryder Cup would be just the opposite and a huge black eye.

Charlie Hanger, executive editor, Golf.com: It seems ridiculous. Two years of buildup, hype and preparation, and they can't stay two extra days to determine the winner? What, they have to rush off to next week's McGladrey Classic?

Mike Walker, senior editor, Golf Magazine: I can't imagine an abbreviated finish for an event this big. Sounds like an empty threat to make the modified Day 2 format look better.

Morfit: I agree that the dates of this thing are too late, and there's not enough daylight to give the tournament some wiggle room if needed. That said, I like the solution to play six foursomes matches and then four fourballs and two foursomes. There's absolutely no hiding anybody now.

Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I can't see the logic in the absolute Monday evening deadline — unless the U.S. team runs out of clothes.

Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I hear SKY/BBC really wants a sunday finish.

Herre: We all do.

Godich: At the expense of changing the format?

Herre: I'm not hung up on the format; the decision to go with 12 matches on Saturday is a good one. I just think ruling out playing on Tuesday is a joke, and if it should happen the best event in golf would be damaged.

Godich: The best event in golf has already been damaged if the TV folks are in fact calling the shots. It is further damaged by changing the format in the middle of the event. If they can write a Monday sundown finish into the rules, why not a plan to account for a lengthy weather delay?

Herre: But Mark, they're not changing the format. It's still eight four-balls, eight foursomes, 12 singles for 28 points. What difference does it make when they're played? It wouldn't be the first time a session was pushed to another day.

Godich: Cutting five sessions down to four and having all 12 play in one session is changing the format. Part of the strategy is deciding which four to sit in each of the first four sessions. This is all about satisfying the TV folks. No other way to explain it. Not only do they not want to play on Tuesday, they don't even want to play on Monday. Sad.

Lipsey: No TV, no money, no Ryder Cup. This is entertainment, and the entertainment folks govern such things.

Godich: And you think the BBC and Sky are going to walk away from the Ryder Cup if the PGA says it's going to stick to the format, even if it means a Monday finish? There are other potential broadcast partners out there. Time for the PGA to show some backbone.

Gorant: Not their call alone. Euro tour is a partner and they're tied to BBC and Sky.

Godich: I know. Time for the Euro tour honchos to show some backbone, too. And as for potential broadcast partners, I'm sure the folks at ESPN would be interested in helping out.

Hanger: To Mark's point about a Tuesday finish being anticlimactic, I disagree. Can you imagine the scenes at offices around the world if we had a Tuesday morning match to decide the Cup? Golf.com would be overwhelmed.

Gorant: That's much better than ending it early. I agree with Jim. The Monday walk-off damages the integrity of the entire thing.

David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com I don't like the idea of changing the format in the middle of the match. I'd have no problem seeing the Ryder Cup stretch into Monday (or even Tuesday) because that would just add to the drama and tension. Looking at the weather forecast, more delays appear likely. What I don't want to see is more changes beyond those announced Friday evening that might lead people to talk about an asterisk next to the 2010 winning team's name. The whole idea of halving unconcluded matches on Monday is terrible.

Godich: Let me elaborate: If this thing were to go to Tuesday, that means we would be subject to a slew of weather delays. The stop-and-start nature would turn a lot of people off and could lead to some less-than-stellar golf.

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Makes sense to me. You need a finish line. What if you go into Tues and then get rained out? You can't stick around forever. This is a big circus needing tons of infrastructure, volunteers, shuttles, etc.

Herre: Alan, the scenario you envision could also result in a Ryder Cup for the ages.

Dusek: Had Phil Mickelson won the U.S. Open at Bethpage in 2009, all those rain delays would now be seen as suspense builders instead of inconveniences.

Van Sickle: The Monday-night enforced finish is potentially disastrous. Let's say Europe is winning by a point but the U.S. is up in the last two matches, which don't finish. The automatic halves give the title to Europe even though it appeared the U.S. might pull it out. That's a controversy that would never die. So let's hope we never get close to invoking that sunset finish rule.

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