Tom Lehman is insulted at the insinuation that the U.S. Ryder Cup squad could use a little help from Canada and South America.
“That sounds a little insulting in some ways,” Lehman said after being handed an 181/2 to 91/2 crushing at the hands of the European team and asked whether his team could have used help from the likes of Mike Weir. “These things go in cycles, and there will be a time when we’ll be sitting here saying to the Europeans that this is in danger of getting into trouble because the Americans are on top. That will happen. Our guys are great guys and great players.”
It is a good thing Lehman is certain that some sort of turnaround is in the offing, because the rest of the golfing world doesn’t see one. Why a man who was just given the second-worst thrashing in Ryder Cup history would be insulted by a notion that the U.S. needs assistance is anyone’s guess. Perhaps it is just part of the great American confidence — the view that their nation is always the best even when proven otherwise. Regardless, the loss of the most recent Ryder Cup by the U.S. team should be taken as a chance to reform the event and do away with the Presidents Cup, a tournament that has the U.S. team face an international squad in the years between Ryder Cups.
This isn’t an entirely original suggestion. Television mouthpiece Johnny Miller has long suggested scrapping the Presidents Cup and adding Canada, South America and Asia to a world team, that would then play the U.S. The problem with that is the U.S. has already been pounded regularly by the Europeans. Imagine what would happen if Vijay Singh, Adam Scott, Retief Goosen, Ernie Els and Weir were added to this new team? It wouldn’t be pretty.
But that doesn’t mean a change couldn’t be made. The Presidents Cup has never caught on the way the PGA Tour hoped when it was created, and the Ryder Cup has become a bit of a farce. With the U.S. now appearing unable to be competitive, why not reconsider the format and the players that are involved?
Several options exist. Perhaps the most attractive would consist of utilizing all three teams as they currently exist. In other words, the Ryder Cup would still be a tournament in which two teams face off. The winner would play in the next Ryder Cup, while the loser would be replaced by the third team. Under this concept, the U.S. would sit down in 2008 and an international team would fight it out with the defending champion European team. This format would eliminate the need for the Presidents Cup, and also allow the American team to have a break by having to play every two years. Like the Super Bowl, where cities are selected in advance to hold the game regardless of what teams are playing, courses for this new Ryder Cup could still be determined in advance. It would allow the event to travel the globe, making it the international ambassador of golf that PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem hoped the World Golf Championships would become.
Of course, this is a utopian dream that will likely never come to reality. Sure the American players complain about having to field a team every year to play the Ryder Cup or the Presidents Cup. But they would probably complain even more loudly if they were not playing. Add to that the real power behind both events — money — and the fact that television networks would not be keen on an event that doesn’t include Tiger Woods, regardless of how poorly he plays.
But by creating an event that forced players to step up and play the Ryder Cup would certainly gain the relevancy and level of competition that Samuel Ryder was hoping for when he first dreamed up the tournament.