An announcement looms, concerning the captains for the 2013 Presidents’ Cup. The rumor is that Nick Price will debut for the International side, while Fred Couples is suspected of returning for a third tour of duty. As always, a decision opens a can of controversial worms and this one is no different. Why should Fred Couples twice more deny a compatriot the opportunity to serve as honorary captain of an US side in international play?
It is quite obvious that Fred Couples brings a winning attitude to his players. He won in the USA in 2009 and in Australia in 2011. I suspect he could motivate (or not motivate, as many suggest) his golfers to win anywhere in the known universe. It was always my understanding that these international team events were about the players, not the captains. Why return a captain to a team, then? Clearly it becomes about winning and the captains, and not so much the players. The only captain I knew to take a decidedly player-oriented approach was Paul Azinger, with his pods and players of similar styles/rhythms/character. It worked.
The repeat captain is something of a rage these days. Buddy Marucci and Jim Holtgrieve will have captained the last four USA Walker Cup sides. For a time, Ryder Cup captains on the European side served a two-term tour of duty. Is each of these captains so deserving of a second go-round? My opinion is a simple no. I remember when Larry Nelson was deprived of an opportunity to captain the Ryder Cup team so that Curtis Strange and Lanny Wadkins (both forgettable as captains) could take his place. Good way to honor a two-time PGA Champion and a military veteran…and I’m a Wake Forest guy, very proud of Curtis and Lanny.
There’s another issue at work here, a skeleton in the closet. It’s the PGA of America versus PGA Tour war. The PGA of America runs the Ryder Cup, more storied and popular than the PGA Tour’s version, the Presidents’ Cup. The PGA Tour split off from the PGA of America in the 1960s, creating a rift that continues to this day. The PGA Tour has long coveted a tournament of its own with major championship status and has promoted The Players Championship as that event. For years, it was suggested that TPC would eventually replace the PGA Championship as a major. Imagine that bad blood!
So here’s the deal, with the exception of Jack Nicklaus, who captained both teams on multiple occasions (1983 and 1987~Ryder Cup; 1998, 2003, 2005, 2007~Presidents’ Cup), no other individual has captained both teams. What does that mean? Loyalty and allegiance. If you want the Ryder Cup, don’t accept the Presidents’ Cup. If you want the Prez, don’t go for the Ryder.
What does it all mean? Not much for those on the outside. Forget that and think about your small part of the world for a moment. Imagine those at work, in your community, in your family, who never get the recognition they deserve. Chances are, they don’t mind, but shouldn’t they be recognized for all they do? My thinking is, thanks for your service, Fred. Two are enough. Time to give someone else a chance to captain a USA side. And new captain, don’t expect a return engagement in 2015, as we’ll be moving on.