Oh Captains My Captains Well, the Ryder Cup has been over for more than a day, which means
one thing: Time to start thinking about the captains for 2012. Ryan
Ballangee over at Waggleroom has a few guys in mind:
The early returns indicate Davis Love
III is the favorite for the American job in the wake of his
vice-captaincy at Celtic Manor and his very successful PGA Tour career.
DL3 had a great run in Ryder Cups past, has expressed interest in the
job, and is unlikely to make the team in '12 given his current form. He
is a social guy, is still currently engaged on the PGA Tour
week-to-week, and is well respected among his peers. That makes him a
natural choice.In some smaller circles, there appears to be a
will to bring Paul Azinger back as captain of the team. Azinger never
left in some ways, with the system that he created to form the team
used as the basis for Corey Pavin's nearly victorious team. He is also
promoting a book that details his strategy and thinking that helped him
be a very effective captain. A return of Zinger is unlikely, but a
fleeting thought.Over the last couple of days, I have wondered
if it might not be too crazy to think of Lee Janzen as a captain. He
certainly is in the twilight of his career, but more importantly, this
might be the point in history at which Payne Stewart would be under
consideration for the captaincy…
While I find the idea of Janzen intriguing, I agree with the general
consensus that Davis Love is the natural choice to be the next U.S.
captain. And yet…I just find that the idea of DL3 leading the
American team doesn't inspire me. Maybe that's a sign that I'm really
rooting for Azinger to come back–without an overly compelling
replacement (and, frankly, while Janzen and Love are natural choices,
they're not compelling), Zinger feels like the best captain to bring
the Cup back where it belongs.Money for Nothing It was made very clear from the day of its selection that Celtic Manor (and the aptly named Twenty Ten Course) was designed to host the Ryder Cup, but there has been some backlash from fans and reporters who feel that the courses for the European side of the Cup have become too much about economics and not enough about golf. After a soggy October weekend in Wales, Geoff Shackelford of GeoffShackelford.com isn't giving the European Tour the benefit of the doubt.
[A]fter four days of watching the insipid sponge that is Celtic Manor with its flat greens, 70s bunkers and strategy-light design, I'm thinking all of this criticism of the FedExCup for sticking us with an October date is a distraction for writers to conveniently look past the European Tour's prostituting of the "purest" event in golf. Yes, the Celtic swooning was relatively minor, though one scribe noted the courses "fabled finale," referring to the spellbinding finishing stretch…Celtic has little in the way of charming greens and surrounds, and as we saw, modern subsurface drainage is no substitute for good, old-fashioned surface drainage. Celtic offered little in the way of risk-reward question posing. And before you cite the short par-4 15th, can you recall a player ever agonizing over the decision to go for the green versus laying up? Most egregious of all were those bland par-3s, which created no drama. The Mahan-McDowell match would have been dramatic coming to a polo field of a golf hole, so no crediting No. 17 for fostering a dramatic finish, please.We keep hearing how this course was designed for the Ryder Cup, however, it featured almost no match play-endearing qualities. Yet it's the big, bad FedExCup that tainted this into a sloppy mess of a Ryder Cup, even as they were enjoying links golf just fifty miles away at the same time Celtic Manor was unplayable. And all because the European Tour has made the event their financial centerpiece and for sale to the highest bidder.
Those are pretty strong words, but they're also pretty hard to argue with. While the course looked fine to me on TV, Shackelford's other arguments are airtight: for a course designed specifically with the Ryder Cup in mind, there were very few holes (with the exception maybe of Nos. 15 and 18) that really set up for a dramatic match-play championship. Hopefully future decisions will put the game first and the wallet second.Jumbo Honor This is more newsy than rumory, but it deserves as much coverage as it can get. Wednesday morning the World Golf Hall of Fame announced that it would induct Masashi "Jumbo" Ozaki into its Class of 2011. From pgatour.com:
Jack Peter, chief operating officer of the World Golf Hall of Fame and Museum, who was at Wednesday's announcement in Tokyo, said: "Jumbo Ozaki is most deserving of this honor as his long and impressive career shines brightly for golf in Japan and around the world. We look forward to sharing his story in the Hall of Fame and Museum for years to come."Ozaki will become the fourth World Golf Hall of Fame member from Japan, joining Hisako "Chako" Higuchi (2003 Inductee), Isao Aoki (2004 Inductee) and Ayako Okamoto (2005 Inductee)."I am very happy, very honored and appreciate everyone who has supported me since I turned pro in 1970 … but to be honest, I feel I am still an active player and I want to keep competing on the Tour," said Ozaki. "The emergence of players like Ryo Ishikawa force me to keep my game sharp. I am delighted to join the other legends of the Hall. My only regret is not playing more outside of Japan, but I dedicated my life to Japanese golf and am extremely grateful the voters thought I was worthy of this honor."
With the "what have you done for me lately?" attitude we all have these days, it's easy to forget how much a guy like Ozaki means to the game. No, he was never very competitive on the PGA Tour, but Jumbo's domination of the Japan Tour (a 12-time money leader with over 100 wins) made it possible for Japanese golf to continue to grow, and encouraged the next generation of golfers like young superstar Ryo Ishikawa. It seems like there is always a fear in Japan that if its athletes leave for bigger fame and fortune in other countries, there won't be anyone left to grow the game back home. Ozaki stands as a great example of that home guard. The most encouraging sign is the support Jumbo got from the election committee. Ozaki was named on 50 percent of the ballots reserved for international players, far outpacing other nominees including Colin Montgomerie (29%), Ian Woosnam (24%) and Darren Clarke (6%).