Is the Ryder Cup Format Flawed?

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A few days ago, Golfweek writer James Achenbach wrote a compelling piece about the flawed Ryder Cup format. His argument was simple; in each Ryder Cup there are players that miss a majority of the competition because only eight players can participate throughout the first two days.

As a result, only a few players are put under the limelight, which does not fulfill the true purpose of the Ryder Cup: to emphasize and test the depth on each team. Determine which team, as a unit is the best.

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The article also inferred that the format could be a main reason the US has done so poorly in the last 20 years of competition. Looking at the President’s Cup where all 12 players participate in the first two days, the US has not lost since 1998.

Change needed?

But no matter how you draw it up, it is hard to imagine there was any chance of a team USA victory in this last Ryder Cup. In hindsight, it would have been nice to see Phil Mickleson and Keegan Bradley tee it up on Saturday morning for the fourballs.

But if everyone plays, that means Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson would have also had to play, and they were not exactly a sight to behold. Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson steamrolled over the two when they played together Friday morning, and then Watson got smoked in his Sunday match and Simpson was only able to get a halve, not that it really mattered at that point anyway.

It is also scary to think about team Europe playing in its entirety. In this alternate reality, the dream team of Graeme McDowell and Victor Dubuisson play two more times. Ian Poulter is also given two more chances; hard to think he would not have capitalized given his resume.

No excuses

Achenback’s argument about depth is dead wrong. Depth means you can find a winning formula with any eight players on your team. Depth means no cracks and no weaknesses, which team USA clearly did have. There is no excuse for team USA. They simply did not play well enough to win the Ryder Cup.

However, Achenback is definitely on to something when he discusses the absurdity of players sitting during a Ryder Cup. Players work hard all year to gain admission to the selective team, and most describe it as a career achievement.

Should reaching a career goal result in riding the bench? Especially in golf? Golf is not like other sports; there is no pride in being someone’s backup.

The Golfweek writer is valid in suggesting a rules change, as it would only make the Ryder Cup a better competition and enrich Golf’s greatest celebration. But don’t think for a minute that it would have changed the outcome of the 40th Ryder Cup.

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