The guys who run the Ryder Cup are taking a backseat to the guys who play in it, according to a golfchannel.com report on last week’s initial meeting of the 11-member Ryder Cup task force.
Although few details were immediately available after the four-plus-hour meeting at PGA of America headquarters in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., last Tuesday, two former captains said over the weekend they were encouraged by what they saw and heard.
“I was extremely pleased with (PGA of America CEO) Pete Bevacqua and (president) Derek Sprague. They very much took a back seat in that meeting to let the players and the former captains have their way with the agenda,” said 2006 U.S. captain Tom Lehman at the PNC Father/Son Challenge. “I give them high marks for putting their actions where there words are.”
Europe has won eight out of the last 10 Ryder Cups, a U.S. drought that reached a crisis point after the Americans’ latest loss, a grim, five-point drubbing at Gleneagles, Scotland, in late September. The loss led to public finger pointing and, later, the creation of the task force.
Lehman isn’t the only one who’s excited after the first meeting. According to a report on golf.com, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods — two of the task force’s most high profile members — have told Fred Couples he has their vote to become U.S. captain for the 2016 matches at Hazeltine. And according to the golfchannel.com report, 2012 U.S. captain Davis Love III, also a task force member, has sensed renewed enthusiasm among the players.
Predictably, Woods and Mickelson were two of the loudest voices on the conference call. “Tiger took charge. Raymond took charge, Phil took charge. We have guys who are very confident, very smart and sure of themselves. Somebody is going to step up and be the leader of this thing and that’s what we need,” said Love, the 2012 captain. “I can tell you that Tiger, Furyk and Stricker have been blowing my phone up since the meeting. It’s not like we had a meeting and said we’ll see you again in February. Everybody is excited and engaged.”
PGA of America President and Task Force Co-Chairman Derek Sprague issued a statement last week that said the task force members “engaged in thoughtful dialogue.”
“We discussed a wide array of issues including the selection process for Captains and Vice Captains and more,” Sprague added. “Today was the beginning of a process that is designed to create the conditions for long term Ryder Cup success. We have more work to do and look forward to gathering again to complete the work of the Task Force. Once we have significant news to report from these meetings, we will be happy to share that with you.”
Sprague has said the next U.S. captain will not be named until 2015.