Thursday, July 31, 2008

What's With the Mahan Backlash?

Earlier in the week, I posted a link to Golf Magazine's interview with Hunter Mahan in which I called him pretty cool. In the interview, he takes a few shots at the PGA of America for the Ryder Cup - saying that players should get paid (or have donations made in their name to charity), it's too much pomp and circumstance, and that the Americans have no fun playing it. Realistically, all three of those sentiments are true. Still, Mahan is getting pummeled by the media. Why?

Bill Nichols of the Dallas Morning News joined the chorus.

Plano's Hunter Mahan is right. If everybody else is making money on the Ryder Cup, then the players should get a cut. And he's right about social engagements being a distraction at the biennial matches between the United States and Europe.

But going off on the Ryder Cup was all wrong. His critical comments virtually assure him of not being one of Paul Azinger's four captain's picks. And the firestorm that is sure to follow will come back to haunt him, particularly when he makes the team.

If he's so right in what he is saying, what is wrong with getting that all out in the open? Players love the President's Cup because it is the direct opposite of the Ryder Cup - it's fun. (Cache this page because I am indirectly complimenting Tim Finchem and that doesn't happen often.)

The PGA of America does make course selection for the Ryder Cup just another part of their rotation through a stable of courses that host their events. Why not do what the Europeans do and host the Ryder Cup at a regular Tour stop? How about cutting back on some of the social events and just let the guys enjoy playing golf for their country...and drink a 12 pack on their own time?

I think a lot of people are happy with the changes Captain Paul Azinger made to the selection criteria for this year, but that's only one part of the problem for the US and their performance. The other part of it is restoring fun. The Euros have fun and they win. The Americans don't and lose. Get it?

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