Ah, America. Finally we have an inclusive, progressive Team USA that truly values its players and understands that modern athletes need their voices to be heard if they are expected to perform to their full potential.
Or, maybe, just maybe, the inmates are running the asylum.
If Davis Love’s team can pull this off and win America’s first Ryder Cup since 2008 then the world will be as sweet as Jack Nicklaus ice cream. The task force will no longer be a punchline, the next generation of Ryder Cup heroes will be established, and Team USA can sleep easy with the belief that they–like Europe–have a Ryder Cup template to call their own.
But what happens if they lose. Big ideas and sweeping change is easy to support and be optimistic about. Until it doesn’t work. That’s when the finger-pointing begins. Blaming captains seems to be the American way, but who’s really the captain? Is it Davis, or Phil, or is it captain by committee?
A strong captain can be a good thing. Sure, that wasn’t the case two years ago at Gleneagles when Tom Watson tried to motivate his overmatched team like a ’60s college football coach, but, surely, a captain can’t be a pushover. Now, let’s get one thing straight, here is no evidence that Love isn’t capable of making a hard decision, it’s just that he hasn’t seemed to make one yet.
As the afternoon matches started Love told European TV that Mickelson said he’s playing well and wanted to go back out this afternoon. What Phil wants, apparently Phil gets. Also, every player on Team USA will have played all three days at this year’s Ryder Cup. That sounds like a pretty player-friendly decision even if it meant Dustin Johnson sitting out the Saturday morning foursomes. In the months leading up to this week, Tiger Woods apparently made up for not having a normal teenage social life by talking on the phone with members of Team USA late into the night. Are Mickelson and Woods the real strategists this year? Is that why Davis was free to hit balls on the Hazeltine driving range earlier this week?
Of course, there is also a very good chance that everything I’m saying is complete B.S. and the Americans have indeed found their way forward. Times have changed and athletes and sports are different now. Especially golfers, who are now like mini-CEOs of their own companies with brands to protect and manage. Maybe Love is fully capable of making hard, unpopular decisions but just hasn’t felt the need. After all, Team USA has never trailed at Hazeltine. Plus, trusting the golf minds of Mickelson and Woods is probably a good idea.
Again , all of this positivity will be celebrated … if … team … USA … wins. But if they don’t, there will blame to go around, the hard part will be figuring out who’s to blame.