Candid Couples talks Presidents Cup, Ryder Cup
October 30, 2014
By Vartan Kupelian, PGATOUR.COM
- October 30, 2014
- Fred Couples, a three-time Presidents Cup captain, said its important for players to feel involved in a team format. (Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Yes, Fred Couples said, the prospect of becoming the next Ryder Cup captain is intriguing.
Couples’ name continues to surface in speculation of who might help resuscitate America’s fortunes. His candidacy is based on an unblemished record as captain of the U.S. Presidents Cup teams. Couples is 3-0, and that’s a mighty inviting statistic during this downturn.
Couples isn’t lobbying. In typically understated manner, he said, “If it happens, it happens.”
At the same time, he spent a great deal of time outlining his approach to being captain of an international side. He was thorough and sincere in his assessments. It was another side to Couples, who carded a 1-over 71 on Thursday in the opening round of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, the final event on the 2014 Champions Tour season.
“It’s a little much what's happened here maybe the last three or four, five weeks,” Couples said. “I don't think anyone should panic. I don't think we need a task force. I don't think we need the PGA of America straining about this.
“What I really think they need is to get players that have been on a lot of these teams to get a feel for what kind of captain they need. Whatever you say about whoever was the last captain, it looks like you're saying things that are negative. If I could say anything positive, that I was on the team that Davis Love III captained (2012, Medinah) and he couldn't have done a better job but basically he never hit a shot.”
Tom Watson never hit a shot, either, Couples said.
“I've captained three Presidents Cups teams, which is much easier to do than a Ryder Cup, but it's still 12 players in a room, and I think they all are different in certain ways,” said Couples, leaning back in his chair. “No matter who the next captain is or the next one or the next one, you can’t run the ship with a big stern. It's impossible. You've got to let the players get involved.
“So to answer your question in a roundabout way, I think anyone would love to be the Ryder Cup captain. I particularly don't think it's really that hard to do, I really don't."
Couples disputes the stress on a captain although it’s true there is more when things are going poorly.
“I keep hearing it's a two-year process,” he said. “Well, what would I do right now? I don't even know who's going to be on the Presidents Cup team let alone the Ryder Cup team. So I could go have dinner with Rickie Fowler for two straight years and tell him everything and then he might not make it. So I think it's all just a little bit much. We need a little more fun and that comes with winning.”
While Couples frowns on calling it a task force – he prefers “committee” as a euphemism – he likes the idea of selecting Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods to serve on the panel.
In his first term as Presidents Cup captain at TPC Harding Park, Couples said every top level meeting he had included his three-time assistant captain Jay Haas, Woods, Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk, the team’s veteran campaigners, and Michael Jordan. It was Couples’ way of empowering team leaders as he applied an age-old sports adage that your best players have to be your best players in order to be successful.
“I think that worked out great,” Couples said. “Phil Mickelson has been on 10 of them, Woods, I don’t know, eight or 10. So those guys should really have a say.”
One of the ways the Presidents Cup is easier to manage is that there’s more golf over one more day and fewer players sitting on the sidelines. Benchings ruffle feathers.
“I know one thing,” Couples said. “I will play Phil Mickelson on Saturday of the next Ryder Cup. That was the only thing I could see that Tom … something happened there. Other than that, Tom did a great job. We lost three-and-a-half to a half (Saturday morning Fourball) and I guarantee you it was because Phil wasn’t out there playing.”
Couples has had contact with most of the players on this year’s Ryder Cup team.
“There are several of them that I text and talk to all the time and I did during that week, too,” he said. “I mean, some of the texts were disheartening, some were exciting. Some when they got home they said, ‘You need to do this.’”
Haas, who will captain the 2015 U.S. Presidents Cup team, knows exactly what Couples brings in the role.
“I can only speak to how the players responded to him in the Presidents Cup,” Haas said. “I don’t know what it is. It’s hard to put your finger on it. He just has a knack at relaxing the guys.
“Somebody asked what were some of Freddie’s speeches like. They were zero. In fact, one time somebody said, ‘Fred, give us something.’ He kind of hemmed and hawed and he goes, ‘Jaybird, what do you have to say?’”
But Haas said Couples is “way more into it than he lets on and that we see.
“He knows the details. He’s already figured the scenario out. I think he would be a great choice.”
Maybe that’s really the secret. Speak softly, or not at all, and let your actions dictate the outcome.