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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Monday Rewind: Ryder Cup

By now, you watched the destruction: another European victory in the Ryder Cup.

The United States struggled in the best ball format on Friday and Saturday at Gleneagles in Scotland, and the result was the difference for Paul McGinley's men.

Europe snagged a 7-1 cushion in both sessions using the foursome format en route to winning the 40th Ryder Cup 16 1/2-11 1/2. Team USA, which hasn't won since 2008 and has not claimed the trophy on European soil since 1993, seems lost.

So how does the United States remedy this issue?

Bring back Paul Azinger as captain! The longtime Manatee County resident was the last winning Team USA captain, and he came up with a winning group formula to accomplish the feat at Valhalla in 2008.

I'm all for giving different past Ryder Cup stars the chance to captain their side when it's their time, but why not give Azinger the ball when the United States clearly needs a leader that has a proven track record?

The Europeans kept another current Manatee County resident, Tony Jacklin, around as captain for a long spell in the 1980s and the reward with that patience is being felt today.

Jacklin became captain for the European squad in 1983 for the first time, and the team narrowly lost 14 1/2-13 1/2.
That close call was the most competitive Europe had been since the 1969 event when only Great Britain & Ireland was represented. That year's Ryder Cup is best remembered for being the first tie in Ryder Cup history that sparked the inspiration for The Concession Golf Club's co-design by Jack Nicklaus and Jacklin in East Manatee County. Nicklaus conceded a short putt to Jacklin at Royal Birkdale in England back in '69 to produce that tie.

Jacklin's playing moxie was enough to earn him captain honors in 1983, and the European side didn't choose a new captain after the close defeat of that year. Rather, they stuck with Jacklin, who delivered the goods in 1985, '87 and '89.

In fact, Europe has been on such a role since Jacklin had his spell as captain that it is time for Team USA to take a page out of that playbook.

If Hollywood likes bringing top British television shows across the pond and make them successful here, then why can't it work in sports, particularly with golf and the Ryder Cup?

So PGA of America, listen up: bring back Zinger as captain for 2014 or else face the continued stretch of European dominance. It's now 11 of the last 15 Ryder Cups that have gone to Europe.

Wake up!