Keeping Score

From the Morning Read inbox

American arrogance meets its match
So, the “explanations” of the U.S. performance at the Ryder Cup come out thick and fast again (“ ‘Postman’ delivers in Europe’s Ryder rout,” Oct. 1).

A Morning Read subscriber wrote, “from 1995 to today … the U.S. is 3-9 in the Ryder Cup. With teams that are consistently more talented than Europe’s, that is inexcusable.” (“From the Morning Read inbox,” Oct. 1).

Mickelson has it that, “If you put these players in a position to succeed, they most often will. Unfortunately, it didn't happen this week.”

It's a strange sort of conceit that allows them to continue to pretend they are somehow better by right, and that it's an accident that they failed. The insulting implication is that if they played the Ryder Cup again that they would win, every time.

That attitude causes some real problems on your side of the Atlantic.

Your courses are set up to reward long hitting at the expense of accuracy. I love the Masters, but hitting the ball 40 yards off line and still having a clear shot to the green with a short iron is a joke. Come and play my course and see where that gets you.

The authorities seem to be transfixed by an assumed media demand for huge drives and wedges in close. Why? That's not what real golf fans want to see. They want great golfers to have to overcome a true test and have the nerve to know when to take a risk and press and when to hold back. Look at that wonderful drive from Justin Thomas at the 18th hole Sunday, to a fairway 20 yards wide: quality. When the fairway is 50 yards wide so anyone can do it: tedium.

How many times does a player brought up to expect no penalty for hitting every drive as far as possible have to take a mid-to-long iron out of his bag? Force them to lay up short on half of the holes, or take a real risk, and they would get better hitting 4-irons into distant greens.

But will anything be done? We shall see in the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits. If it's set up with wide fairways at 300-plus yards, then they will have learned nothing.

Why do you think the U.S. team members are ranked better than the Europeans? Because the rankings reflect the courses that they play on, and the courses dictate the type of golfer.

Time for a change? I certainly hope so. Otherwise, the Ryder Cup courses increasingly will be set up to favor the home team, and the spectacle will become far less interesting.

Terry Wall
Winchester, England

Secret for U.S.: Just play better
It turns out the Ryder Cup task force and committee has had zero effect on Team USA's performance. Since 1983, the U.S. and Europe have alternated victories in the U.S., which means nothing changed at Hazeltine in 2016. And more importantly, after this latest fiasco, nothing has changed on European soil, either.

The truth is, the U.S. players aren't going to play better with a new system of grooming captains or allowing the players to be more vested in the process.

Players should be able to play with anyone. This belief that you have to play with your buddy, as Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas did, is way overblown. Yes, they forged a 3-1 record as a team, but look at the chemistry that Spieth and Patrick Reed had in the previous two Ryder Cups. Certainly, they would have done the same, if not 4-0, and putting Thomas with another player might well have paid similar dividends. The breaking up of the Spieth-Reed team was one of the most disappointing aspects of this Ryder Cup, plus sitting Reed during two sessions.

I'm not blaming captain Jim Furyk because the U.S. likely would have lost anyway, but his pairings did not give the U.S. the best chance to win. As for the Ryder Cup task force, forget it. Let's try a just-play-better task force next time.

Mark Harman
Ridgeland, S.C.
(Harman is the national course director for the U.S. Golf Teachers Federation.)

Why did U.S. lose? Here are 3 reasons
Many good perspectives were shared by Morning Read contributors and readers on the reasons for the American debacle at the Ryder Cup. There isn’t one that stands out as “the reason.”

Methinks, however, that three reasons predominate: 1. The American captain’s picks were unwise from the get-go; 2. The Americans demonstrated that they play this as more of an exhibition than a competition; and 3. The much-heralded camaraderie amongst the U.S. players wasn’t manifested.

Many will postulate on the reasons for the loss. But, it doesn’t take another task force or committee to figure it out. It starts, and maybe ends, with the team and its leaders facing head-on a few simple facts.

Ted Comstock
Lancaster, N.H.

Break the mold for U.S. team
I'm watching Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive,” and the analysts are passionately discussing what went wrong for the U.S. in the Ryder Cup. Let me take a stab at it:

1. The U.S. team. I use the word team, but this wasn't a team. It was a collection of prima donnas. We have this guy who doesn't want to play with that guy. What a joke.

2. The captain’s selection process. Jim Furyk seems to be a wonderful human being. He is a past recipient of the Payne Stewart Award. Unfortunately, being a nice guy isn't a necessary characteristic of an effective leader. We need a Bill Belichick-type leader who can bring the prima donnas together and tell the noisier ones to shut up and do their job. Why do we need a professional golfer to be the captain? How about a caddie? Or an LPGA golfer? Pick the best leader.

3. The team selection process. Why are we taking the top individual players to make the team? Dustin Johnson won one point for the U.S. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have awful Ryder Cup records. Listening to the U.S. players talk about the Ryder Cup before the matches, it was clear that their goal was to make the team, not necessarily to win the Ryder Cup. Why was Mickelson there? 192nd in driving accuracy? On ribbon-wide fairways? He couldn’t hit French territory off the tee. Patrick Reed isn't a team player, and he soils his own mess kit every time he opens his mouth. Adversity reveals Reed's and Mickelson's poor character. The Europeans use adversity to elevate one another. Why wasn't Kevin Kisner or Keegan Bradley on the team? How about Xander Schauffele? The selection process needs to take into consideration the intangibles that make the team better.

4. Social media. Take their cellphones away or have them sign an agreement not to post anything critical on social media (and in Reed's case, his talking to The New York Times) under penalty of being disqualified from playing in the next Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup. If they want to behave like spoiled children, let's treat them that way.

I'm sure you can come up with a few more. Talk about a target-rich environment.

Chris Belanger

Stars, stripes and prima donnas
My wife and I traveled to Paris for the Ryder Cup, and while we were definitely pulling for the Americans to win, we also feel really good that the Americans got what they deserved.

We went to the practice rounds on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. My wife loves to collect autographs from the players. Her pin flag is half full, half empty. Europeans signed were nine; Americans signed, two. And neither of the two Americans – captain Jim Furyk and vice captain Zach Johnson – was a player.

The European players were walking and signing in every practice round. They were smiling and taking selfies with fans, American and European. The Americans couldn’t be bothered. They would say, “Not now; we’ll sign later.” Then later, they would hop into their golf carts and speed away from all fans as fast as they could, as if they were under threat.

I guess we fans are not to be credited for the bills we pay to their extravagance. They couldn’t care less that we flew across the Atlantic on our own dime to see these prima donnas get thumped. They got what they deserved, and the European players know that they are making fans all over the world.

My wife and I served our country in the Air Force for nearly 60 years combined, and Condoleezza Rice recognized our service by signing for us, and thanked us for our service. Right now, I am of the feeling that these guys should face two years of mandatory service, much like the South Korean golfers, just to teach them a little humility and respect for those who really pay their bills.

Michael Welsh and Pichi Welsh
Rio Rancho, N.M.

Identifying with the Europeans
I don't want to sound un-American, but I'm glad the U.S. team got smoked. If you watched the other televised drama on Thursday, you got a glimpse of what it's like for some to grow up in an upper-middle-class, country-club environment.

Our U.S. team is largely made up of those country-club types who have been coddled because of their family's economic status and their golfing talent. The Europeans grew up like most of us ... caddieing at the country club and playing at the local muni.

Thanks, Euros.

Charlie Jurgonis
Fairfax, Va.

Pull plug on inconsequential matches
Everything about the Ryder Cup is perfect except for the need to play out meaningless matches.

Once the team winner is determined, there should be a rule that all remaining matches finish the hole on which they are playing, and the score at that point shall be the score of their match. That way, every member of the winning team can start to celebrate, and no one on the losing team has to endure a lengthy death march with no real significance.

John Dives
Victoria, British Columbia

Out of gas in France
The PGA Tour schedule plainly works against the Ryder Cup team. To have a big-deal windup like the FedEx Cup playoffs for four weeks, culminating in Tiger Woods’ cathartic victory at the Tour Championship, clearly resulted in a number of golf professionals with no competitive adrenaline in the tank. FedEx Cup winner Justin Rose also seemed to be off his game in France.

Many other team members who went all in on the road to Atlanta had no spark in France.

Athletes can have only so many big-deal events in certain time spans.

Dave Curley
Sacramento, Calif.

French labor laws affect Ryder Cup telecast
As an American employment lawyer, I had several clients consult with me regarding the issues that Alex Miceli raised (“French labor law keeps lid on workweek,” Oct. 1). One would believe everyone knew, or should have known, in advance what restrictions are imposed by French law.

Although Miceli might not have explicitly stated in his article, the coverage, mostly looking at TV, did seem lacking and lackluster, for the most part. Contrasted with the British Open, PGA Championship, FedEx Cup playoffs and Tour Championship, Ryder Cup coverage seemed dry and needing spice. Clearly, many behind-the-scenes employees were not engaged in their fullest capacities and duties because of the legal restrictions, and coverage wilted because of it.

Miceli’s points are validated by the ultimate work product of the TV coverage.

Joe Wessendarp
West Chester, Ohio

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