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Another failed set of picks

U.S. Ryder Cup destined to fall

September 2, 2008

When the 2008 Ryder Cup is said and done, once again fans of the United States squad will ponder what could have been.

I will freely admit to being an eternal pessimist when it comes to many things sports -The Big Ten conference, all things Cleveland, etc.

But while The Big Ten will have its down years through no real fault of itself, and the Cleveland Browns, Cavs and Indians will often find new, innovative ways to lose contests, the situation surrounding the U.S. Ryder Cup is completely fixable.

There is no reason, even with Tiger Woods on the sidelines that the United States shouldn't claim victory on its home turf in Louisville.

Yet on Tuesday, captain Paul Azinger again tossed home field advantage right out the window by playing statistics and not playing popularity.

Azinger took Steve Stricker, Hunter Mahan, J.B. Holmes and Chad Campbell with his captains picks.

All I asked for him to do was take two fan favorites. Not guys miles off the radar screen, but fan favorites that could get the gallery fired up.

Mahan got people fired up, but it was for his disdain for everything surrounding the Ryder Cup. An apology came after, and all has been apparently forgotten. His tune changed Tuesday, as he went from being angry about the massive dinners he has to attend and the lack of pay to his promise to "enjoy every second of it."

We've seen captains play stats in recent Ryder Cups. It didn't work for Curtis Strange or Tom Lehman. It certainly didn't work for Hal Sutton, and I don't like the prospects of it working for Azinger, either.

I'm not going to knock any of his picks personally other than Mahan, because Steve Stricker, J.B. Holmes and Chad Campbell have all played well enough to make the team.

But does anyone really care about any of them?

Azinger had Rocco Mediate and Woody Austin sitting there, playing perhaps the best golf of their lives, and he passed them. Mediate became a 45-year-old sensation overnight with his epic battle against Tiger Woods earlier this year, and Austin, ranked 10th in the Ryder Cup standings, showed how well he can play in setups like the Ryder Cup with his performance in the 2007 Presidents Cup. Not to mention fans love him, even if it is for slamming a putter off of his head and falling into a lake.

But Chad Campbell? Steve Stricker? I get tired just thinking about watching them play.

Holmes kills it off the tee and is a bit more colorful, but he's not exactly as fun as watching John Daly.

These guys have the sex appeal of an '88 Cutlass.

I realize golf purists will think that's completely ridiculous, and I would agree with them if the United States hadn't been demoralized in 2004 and 2006.

Again, it all comes down to one thing -Europe wants it more. The popularity of team golf in America and its professional golfers is the equivalent of comparing soccer to football. Europe rallies the troops and kicks the crap out of America, who basically goes through the motions and finds it satisfactory enough not to spike themselves.

If it was up to me I would take the top five in the standings and let the fans vote for the rest. At least then if the U.S. got spanked it would be entertaining.

And at this point, what does the U.S. have to lose?

After all, to them it's just another Ryder Cup.

E-mail B.J. Lisko at



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