Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Ryder Cup Format Change

I didn't get to talk about this last week as I was on vacation, so I wanted to circle back and make a comment on Ryder Cup Captain Paul Azinger's decision to modify the format of the competition. For those not familiar with the changes, here are the details:

Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger is switching the format with hopes of giving his American team an edge, going back to alternate shot in the opening matches for the first time since 1999.

Alternate shot, or foursomes, had been used in the first sessions every year since 1981 until European captain Seve Ballesteros opened with better ball (fourballs) in 1997 at Valderrama. U.S. captain Ben Crenshaw switched back to alternate shot in 1999 at Brookline, but the last three Ryder Cup matches have started with better ball.
Traditionally, the Americans play better with the alternate shot format. In the 2004 thrashing, though, Europe dominated alternate shot winning 6 of 8 points. In 2002, the US prevailed by earning 4.5 of the possible 8 points in the format. Still, not a stunning record considering recent trends.

Regardless of whether or not the change has a lot of proof behind it, you have to credit Captain Azinger for making a stand to do what he feels will improve his team's chances in September at Valhalla. From spicing up the selection criteria to a format change, Azinger is willing to try something different to get the US out of the funk that it has been in since the 1990s.

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