DALLAS — CBS golf commentator David Feherty and victorious 1999 U.S. Ryder Cup captain Ben Crenshaw both said better U.S. play and fewer PGA of America committees were the first steps toward recovering from recent embarrassing losses to the Europeans in the Ryder Cup.
“The European thrashed us this year, they absolutely thrashed us," said Crenshaw, who led the Americans to a stirring final-day comeback en route to an improbable 1999 victory. "We have to figure out a way to keep from getting our hat handed to us."
Both appeared Monday in Dallas, were Feherty lives, at the M.D. Anderson Center Lunch with a Legend series.
Like his fellow American winning captain Paul Azinger, Crenshaw wasn’t asked by the PGA of America to be on the PGA of America's committee, which is in charge of duplicating what the two have already pulled off.
“Nobody asked me, but that’s okay,” Crenshaw said with his hands spread out wide, “I could probably offer a few things.”
Feherty has a unique perspective on the Ryder Cup and the American’s biennial troubles in the matches against Europe. The Northern Ireland native played for the European Team in a loss to the Americans in 1991, the so-called War by the Shore in Kiawah Island, S.C., but became a naturalized American citizen in 2010 and actively roots for his new country now.
“How is a task force going to teach the Americans to play better?” Feherty said. “How is a captain going to change that? That’s totally BS. You have an organization, the PGA of America, who receives a vast majority of their funding from the Ryder Cup, but it’s using 12 players from the PGA Tour with no association to the PGA.”
Both Crenshaw and Feherty agree that right now Europe simply has better players who play better as a team, especially this fall at Gleneagles in Scotland.
“I think these guys they have on their team are vastly underrated over here just how good they are,” Crenshaw said of the European team. “I know one thing, we have to drive it better. It seems like in watching the matches we were always playing from the rough."
Feherty said good times were coming for the Americans but maybe not as fast as most U.S. golf fans would hope.
“The Europeans are simply better now, but the tide will turn," Feherty said. "We have a lot of good players coming up and once they have some experience they will be fine. It’s the players, always the players. If we have a good enough team, I could be captain, but they have that silly rule about having to be born here first.”
For his part, Crenshaw actively ruled himself out as to returning as captain.
“My captaining days are over, that took a few years of my life,” he said.
Crenshaw stressed the field was wide open for players and people to lead the next U.S. team.
“We don’t have an order now, we’ve shattered that for sure,” he said. “Maybe we take an older guy, go back and get Larry Nelson or somebody like that. Maybe we get a younger guy who is still playing. I think anybody could do it. It’s certainly open.”
Home-field advantage could help in 2016, too, when the Ryder Cup is played at Hazeltine in Chaska, Minn., near Minneapolis.
“Perhaps the breadbasket of America, in Minnesota, will be good to us in two years," Crenshaw said. "I certainly hope so.”