In today’s Desert Sun and mydesert.com, I wrote this column saying that while Davis Love III might have made a mistake or two as captain of the U.S. Ryder Cup team, Love is not to blame for the Sunday collapse that allowed Europe to come back and win the Cup. I argue that European captain Jose Maria Olazabal also made some obvious mistakes. But Olazabal’s team won, so he doesn’t get grilled like Love does. Love’s players just didn’t play well Sunday.
Readers are already reacting today to the column, and I thought I would share some of their thoughts. For instance:
–Duain writes: “In your column today I think you took the easy path. Saying it wasn’t Love’s fault because he didn’t hit a shot is too simple. He picked Stricker and Furyk because of their experience and calming influence in the team room. For 20 years now we have had “experience” and we continue to lose. I contend we should eliminate experience as a determining factor in Captain’s picks and go with younger players.”
Good points, but remember, through two days of the Ryder Cup, with Stricker and Furyk producing almost nothing, the U.S. team was ahead 10-6, a great position going into Sunday. So Saturday night, it was tough to criticize Love for anything he had done.
–Keegan (no, not Keegan Bradley) writes, “Your column this morning was “spot on”. To me, the best moments of the Ryder Cup were exemplified by Mickelson’s enthusiastic and gracious acknowledgement of the two “finishing” birdie putts of Justin Rose on Sunday. Mr. Ryder would be proud of such sportsmanship.”
Mickelson was gracious in defeat. But did he really have to air mail the 18th green with his approach shot? That 18th hole killed the Americans throughout the week, but it was Sunday when it seemed like a torture chamber. And Mickelson’s loss Sunday to Justin Rose was a major moment in the European comeback.
–Jim from La Quinta adds, “I agree it is not entirely Love’s fault. Picking Stricker & Furyk, playing Tiger & Stricker the third time is Love’s downfall. He should be hammered for the Stricker & Furyk pick. But the bottom-line lies with the players. Do these guys really need to have all this high priced inspiration to teach them what teamwork/commitment is all about?”
I have through about the captain’s picks a lot in the last two days, and it seems to me that any U.S. captain, given the same automatic eight players and the same points standings and the same 2012 season by potential captain’s picks, would have picked at least three of the same four players Love picked. Dustin Johnson was a no-brainer. Brandt Snedeker was a strong pick. Most captains would have picked either Stricker or Love for added experience, and might have picked both. I would have put Hunter Mahan on the team instead of Fuyrk, but the last time we saw Mahan in the Ryder Cup, he was stubbing a chip in a critical Sunday match and losing to Graeme McDowell in Wales in 2010.
So the debate about Love and his performance as captain and the reasons for the U.S. loss continues on, and I’m sure I’ll get more e-mails as the day goes on . . .