We are a couple of weeks away from the Presidents Cup matches in Melbourne Australian, which is the under card for the 2020 Ryder Cup.
USA Team Captain Woods has surrounded himself with Assistant Captains Zach Johnson, Fred Couples, and 2020 Ryder Cup Captain Steve Stricker. The selection of Stricker has multiple layers to it. First, he will get a chance to evaluate players under the pressure of team competition versus the weekly competition of the PGA tour. Secondly, this is an audition for Woods himself as 2020 Ryder Cup member. Thirdly, they can test the competition model that Stricker would like to implement.
Paul Azinger in my opinion is truly the only Coach that Americans have had. Everyone else was just a facilitator. He put together his Pod system whereby he had three groups of four players who did everything together. They functioned as three separate units and had little interaction with the other groups. It was based on the Navy Seal training model. It is a well-known that Seals are high performers, work in similar sized groups and function under intense pressure. Seals know each other’s moves and have a high degree of trust among one another. Sounds very similar to the Ryder Cup matches except lives are not on the line. Brilliant move by Azinger to recognize that.
As we all know Tiger Woods is fascinated by the military and has trained with the Seals as documented in Wright Thompson’s book The Cost of These Dreams. It will be interesting to see if Woods adopts the Pod concept with his team. Azinger was intelligent enough to realize that the European team was much more bonded than the American team. The Irish play with Irish, the Spaniards with the Spaniards and the list goes on. It is that bond that gives the Europeans the advantage. An advantage at this level of competition so slim you have to find it anywhere you can. Talent only gets you so far. Talent and a passion to win or grit can take you over the edge.
Azinger did what most great Coaches do. He took an interest in his players, he helped them play better, each player knew there role, they were put in positions to succeed, and he walked the walk because he had been there. He went toe to toe with Seve, Poulter, and the lot. He had credibility. He knew how to win.
The Americans should win the Presidents Cup because they are more bonded. Most of these players have teamed up before, whereas the Internationals are just that. International. They come from different tours, countries, and speak different languages. They have only days to bond. A tough task for Ernie Els the European Captain.
This is an important time for Steve Stricker as some of this team will be part of his 2020 team, but more importantly some of this team will be under consideration as Captains pick and how they interact and perform on and off the course during this event will go a long way in Strickers decision making process.
Or at least it should.
Until next time.
Follow on twitter @betweentheears2