He’s a guy who lived and breathed for the third week in September of every other year, relishing the chance to play for Old Glory.And Steve Elling in the Orlando Sentinel:
Can the new captain impart that attitude throughout his squad? Not in three or four days, or however long the Yanks hang out before we start keeping score. Not with the ’08 Ryder Cup being played right after the Fed-Ex Cup playoffs—the top U.S. players are sure to be drained by six or seven starts in the eight-week stretch leading into Valhalla. And not with the core group Azinger is sure to have. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk are the best in the world when golf is an individual sport. In a team format, however, the Yanks have proven competitively dysfunctional, unable to maximize their bounty of resources as a group.
Going forward, Ryder Cup candidates will be rewarded for their performance at the majors, if not for their earnings. In 2007, players can't earn points unless they make the cut at a major championship. The 2008 season has been given far more weight, with players amassing points based on their dollar totals and performances at Grand Slam events.
"Wow, that's pretty amazing," said two-time Ryder Cupper Chris DiMarco when told of the new scheme on his way to an event this week in China. "Now you have to be in the top eight to make the team? I'm not sure I know how to respond to that. But everybody is sick and tired of losing, so it's probably time to try something very different."
Whereas U.S. players previously were rewarded for top-10 finishes -- with the influx of foreign talent, that's become increasing tougher -- now anytime they make a check in 2008, they'll make some progress toward a spot on the team. Azinger and six PGA officials came up with the new configuration.
"Money has always been the barometer out here," Azinger said.
Whether the revision will result in wholesale changes in team personnel -- or turn around America's flagging fortunes -- appears debatable. PGA President Roger Warren said his organization, which runs the event, ran the numbers from the 2006 team and noted there were few, if any, changes to the composition of the top players on the points list.
"There wasn't much difference in the top 6, 7, 8 players," Warren said.
Azinger, however, said the system weeds out players who collected too many points several months before the competition.
"I do think that there is going to be one clear distinction in '08, and that's simply that there is not going to be a single player on tour that's going to know in January of '08 that they're a lock for that Ryder Cup team, including Tiger [Woods]," he said. "The reality is, nobody is going to have qualified for this team based on their performance in '07."