'Process' more than a buzzword for U.S. team
February 25, 2015
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
- U.S. Captain Davis Love III is welcoming more communication from players prior to the 2016 Ryder Cup. (David Cannon/Getty Images)
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- On the surface, it might appear the PGA of America didn’t stray far from tradition with its selection of Davis Love III as the 2016 Ryder Cup Captain.
In some ways it didn’t -- Love has a deep connection to the organization and has led the U.S. before. But dig only a little bit and it was evident that no stone was left unturned, no question was a bad question, no idea was a bad idea.
Playing alternate-shot matches during a tournament week?
“One thing Phil (Mickelson) is good at is organizing matches,” Love said.
What about a playing captain or vice captain?
“I don't think there's any reason to say no, and there's certainly no reason to say that's not a good idea if it ever happened in the future,” added PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua.
Hear what past, present and future Ryder Cup team members have to say?
“Process” was used 27 times during Tuesday’s press conference, and “input” another 10. They were more than buzzwords.
Mickelson said his two biggest frustrations to come out of the Americans’ 16 1/2-11 1/2 loss at Gleneagles was that captain Tom Watson took “zero input” from the players and there was “zero continuity” through the year.
It added up to a third straight loss for the U.S., now 2-8 over the last 20 years in the biennial matches. But it was its most defeating yet based on the dysfunctional nature of it all.
Ultimately, it led to the forming of a task force, a new points system, a new number of and timing for captain’s picks and another new committee that includes Mickelson and Tiger Woods to keep the ideas coming.
Born out of that, too, was a new philosophy, new approach and new outlook.
“I wasn’t thinking that at the time,” Mickelson said when asked if the outcome was what he wanted following his verbal evisceration of Watson at Gleneagles. “But I'm excited about where we are now and I'm excited about where we are headed, the direction we are headed, not just into 2016 but really for the next 10 or 20 years.
“I'm excited about the next generation of players, Rickie (Fowler) and Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed and guys that are going to be on the upcoming teams that will have input in who their captain (is), how it's captained, who the vice captains are and the entire process I think will be a very positive experience for all the players and very exciting opportunity over the next 10 Ryder Cups to hopefully improve on the record that we have been limping home with.”
Rickie Fowler said he's most excited about the open communication moving forward. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images).
As Tom Lehman put it, winning is a process. It doesn’t just happen, not since the Ryder Cup expanded to include the whole of Europe in 1979.
“We have never really had a process,” said Lehman, whose Ryder Cup resume includes three stints as a player and another as a captain. “We do now and I think that's the thing that's most exciting.”
Part of that process was soliciting that other buzzword: Input.
"We all feel like we can communicate better, can voice our opinion and feel like we are all invested in the team,” said Rickie Fowler, a member of the task force who can help speak for the game’s 20-somethings. “That way when we go out there and show up tournament week, we're all playing together to win or we're all going to be there and lose together. We're together no matter what. The communication and everyone feeling like they are a part of the team and have an influence on what's going to happen, and how we win or lose, it's just setting ourselves up for success.”
Another part of that process was the task force discussing what it wanted in a captain rather than who. Once it got around to the latter, the conversation kept coming back to one name: Love’s.
He is respected and popular among his peers, takes a simple approach, can connect with the game’s youth and is willing and capable of learning from past mistakes (his or those of others).
"Part of the vision is if you're saying you'll do whatever it takes to be successful, what does that mean exactly?” Lehman said. “It means you'll do whatever it takes to be successful. If that means going to Minneapolis for a couple days for the next couple summers to learn the course more, then you do it. The vision needs someone to promote it, to sell it, to say, 'Hey you guys, this is what we're doing. I expect you guys to put your money where your mouth is and do it.'
“I think guys like Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed have gotten a taste of it and they don't want to lose. They want to win. The combination of young guys with talent who don't like to lose, who haven't really experienced much losing and don't have a legacy of it, they're like, 'I love this idea of starting something new.' ”