The 43rd Ryder Cup – The Team Anchor

During every team event, there is always that one player who makes the others on their team play better. Some call this person a ‘leader’, others ‘the intangible’, or others ‘the man’. I have used those terms in the past, but over the past 15 years (through my many coaching opportunities) I have come to see this player as an anchor for success. More importantly, I have also learned that ‘the anchor’ is not always the same person, but generally some players continue to lead their team. The Ryder Cup is no different; both Team Europe and Team USA will have that one player that will drag, push, or lead their team to victory. After giving it some thought, I have decided on who I think will step up this weekend and try to be the anchor for their team.

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The 43rd Ryder Cup – Initial Thoughts

Ryder Cup logo

It is Ryder Cup week! Many golf fans are preparing for the fun and excitement as the defending champions, Team Europe, sharpen their game in attempts to win yet another trophy. This year’s event will be played at Whistling Straits Golf Course, Wisconsin, United States. Pete and Alice Dye designed this amazing golf course and playing at just over 7300 yards, it will provide the perfect venue for Team USA to try and defeat Team Europe and regain the Ryder Cup. “Open, rugged and windswept terrain defines the walking-only, links-style Straits course sculpted along two miles of Lake Michigan shoreline” (Ryder Cup); normally, the host country would have home field advantage, but I am not so sure that this will be the case this year. Regardless, the golf is going to be exciting and I am sure not short of pivotal moments.

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PGA Championship and The Ryder Cup

Ryder Cup ImageThe second round of the PGA Championship is in the books. As expected, Rory McIlroy is leading the field by two. He played very well in the extremely wet conditions and is poised to win his second Major of the year.

Also as predicted, Tiger Woods struggled and missed the cut. Brian Penn at All About Golf talks about the end of an era and provides a great view of what most of us are thinking. It is unfortunate, but I am not entirely sure he will not make another come back.

Tom Watson Ryder CupA more interesting issue regarding the PGA Championship is its importance to USA Ryder Cup Captain, Tom Watson. Playing in this weekend’s Major, he has his eye on all the players who have made the team and those on the bubble. With three Captain’s picks left, players such as Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Keegan Bradley, Brendon Todd and Ryan Moore seem to be the leading candidates. Play at the PGA Championship will have a tremendous impact on his final decision.

Complicating Watson’s life is the turmoil faced by the 2014 USA Ryder Cup Team. Dustin Johnson cannot play due to his personal challenges. He was in 6th place before he announced that he was finished playing professional golf for the rest of 2014. Matt Kuchar and defending PGA Champion, Jason Dufner, have both withdrawn from the PGA Championship because of health issues. Considered leaders on the USA Ryder Cup team, their loss would further stress Tom Watson. If neither are healthy enough to play in the Ryder Cup in September, Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley would make the team….then what?

The players Watson would have to choose from are steady, focused, young and hungry to make their mark in Ryder Cup history. Unfortunately, players like Ryan Moore, Brendan Todd, Harris English, Webb Simpson and Chris Kirk are all considered young journeyman players who are just now starting to play well enough to win. With 12 wins between all 5 players, they are not considered seasoned professionals ready for the pressure of the Ryder Cup matches. Or are they?

Maybe, Captain Watson needs to throw convention out the window and go with some young blood. It is a risk, but considering the Europeans have won 7 out of the last 10 Ryder Cups, a change might be in order! They have played well enough to at least be in the running, it may be time to give them a chance! And Tom Watson, that wily veteran who has slayed the greatest names in golf, might just be crazy enough to lead these young players to victory!

After the PGA Championship, Watson will have some difficult decisions to make. I believe Mickelson is a shoe-in, but the rest….who can say? Regardless, come 23 September at the Gleneagles Resort in Perthshire, Scotland, the underdog USA Ryder Cup team will battle the European Team for golfing supremacy!

I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!