Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ryder Cup Team BETTER Without Tiger?!

Normally, when I mention the Detroit Free Press, it's to make fun of Carlos Monarrez - the lovable columnist who almost always gets it wrong. This time, though, it's not Carlos that I want to analyze. It's Drew Sharp. Sharp makes a claim dumber than all of the claims Monarrez has ever made: that the US Ryder Cup team is actually BETTER for not having Tiger Woods on it.

What. Here we go!

The idea of addition through subtraction of the world's best player sounds crazy, but the Americans become less aristocratic without Tiger's special care and feeding.

Whom to pair with him? How to keep him motivated?

Drew, the Americans haven't found a pairing that consistently has worked in the Ryder Cup since Tiger has been a professional. Remember when we thought that Chris Riley and Tiger might work? Or how about the Davids Toms and Love III? American captains and players have done a lousy job in this format of findings teams that work.

Kenny Perry nailed it before the Buick Open six weeks ago when he suggested that despite the challenges of losing the greatest player around, the United States "may become a tougher team" in Woods' absence.

They would have to be tougher in terms of talent because Woods cannot lend his services. That would definitely not imply that they're better despite Woods' meh record in the event (10-13-2). Also, Kenny Perry should not be quoted in reference to toughness - skipping qualifying for the US Open and an exemption into the British Open to do nothing and play in Milwaukee (a.k.a. kill time).

But, Sharp decides that this is something to be lauded in making the Ryder Cup team better because he wants to be there. I have to thoroughly disagree. Just because Hunter Mahan said what a lot of guys really think doesn't mean that guys don't want to play on the Ryder Cup team. They want to play on a fun Ryder Cup team. You know, like the Pres Cup teams that Jack Nicklaus captained.

Last, though, I have a statement in Sharp's column that I kind of agreed with at first and then disagreed with vehemently.

Azinger would never admit it, but actually his job just got a little easier.

Ok, so Zinger doesn't have Tiger. That means he loses a guy who is basically a crapshoot to win or lose his matches. Yes, Woods is the best player alive, but he is not the best Ryder Cup player alive - that goes to either Monty or Sergio. Therefore, Zinger didn't really lose much in losing Woods. In exchange, he did lose some expectations from some of the golf community.

But, for anyone who follows golf, the expectations were not tempered. People know that Woods is marginal in the Ryder Cup. Therefore, having him on the team or not really doesn't mean much in terms of points. And that means that we should basically expect the same from Azinger without the benefit of having Ryder Cupper Tiger Woods. (See action figure.)

Here are our 8 automatic qualifiers for the Ryder Cup if we made the team today.

Cink (3-5-4), Mickelson (9-12-4), Perry (0-2-0), Furyk (6-12-2), Kim (NR), Leonard (0-3-5), Weekley (NR), Stricker (NR).

They have records that are WAY worse than Tiger's 50% point rate. That means that it is possible that the Americans could actually do worse on their own home turf than they did at Oakland Hills. Even with somewhat tempered expectations, how does that make Azinger's life easier or Woods' absence a positive?

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