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O Captain! Ryder Cup Captains Can Make A Difference

GLENEAGLES, Scotland — Much is made of the role of the Ryder Cup captains, but how important a part do they really play?
 
Many will argue that when you have 12 of the best golfers in the world under your command then surely all you have to do is put their names in a hat, pull them out in pairs and tell them to go out and wipe the floor with the opposition.
 
If only it were that easy.
 
While a captain may not ever actually win you a match, he can certainly lose it for you. Hal Sutton most immediately springs to mind. At Oakland Hills in 2005, he was a man with a plan. That plan was to pair Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, then the world’s top two golfers, together in the four-balls and foursomes, put four points in the bank and let everything else take care of itself.
 
That was the plan. It didn’t work. In fact, it failed spectacularly. Sutton failed to take chemistry into account. Sure, they were both great golfers, but they didn’t get along very well (to put it mildly) so they didn’t communicate and forgot that they were supposed to be part of a team. 
 
Tiger-Phil-Ryder-Cup
 
For the Europeans, Nick Faldo and David Gilford were another disastrous pairing. Faldo was interested only in his own game and Gilford was a shy, retiring guy who made the team almost by accident. Faldo exchanged barely a word with him and, unsurprisingly, they lost heavily. But they should never had been paired together. 
 
On Friday, Tom Watson sent out Mickelson and Keegan Bradley in the afternoon foursomes, even though both players had hardly hit a fairway between them in the morning four-ball.
 
There were plenty of raised eyebrows because Watson also made rookies Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed sit out the foursomes after winning 5 and 4 in the morning.
 
Jordan-Spieth-Patrick-Reed
  
Mickelson and Bradley lost. Only time will tell whether that point proves to be crucial, but Watson later admitted that he had made a mistake. And his decision will have done nothing for the confidence of Reed and Spieth.
 
So yes, good or bad, a captain can make a difference at the Ryder Cup —  a big difference.

Related Link: Complete Back9Network Ryder Cup Coverage

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