As the dusts settles on the 2014 Ryder Cup American Captain Tom Watson has started to come in for criticism. Many commentators were quick to point out the failings of the nine time Major win. Even Phil Mickelson launched a broadside attack on his captain in the post-tournament press conference! Watson was quick to respond and argued that he and Phil simply had a difference of opinion. Public opinion is split on whether Mickelson was right to attack a golfing legend in this manner so soon after the event ended.
What isn’t up for debate is the captaincy of Irishman Paul McGinley. Many of the players, including world number one Rory McElroy have put on record that he is the best European captain the have played under. McGinley’s meticulous preparation, which allegedly included following Victor Dubuisson around that world so that they could have dinner and make the French man feel at ease about the Ryder Cup, has been lauded by all quarters. Success was inevitable.
Below is the breakdown of Ryder Cup points per player over the three day event. The three Captain’s Picks (Wildcards) are highlighted in red and blue. It makes for interesting reading.
The next two tables give some more detail. The Europeans basically won the Ryder Cup over the course of the foursome matches, hammering the USA 7 – 1. This it could be argued is where Watson went astray. But how much control does he have other than pairing up players? These same players were able to deliver a victory in the Fourball version of the game, on both Friday and Saturday.
The role of the captain is very much overstated in much the same way that the role of politicians is over the economy. Paul Seabright’s 2010 book The Company of Strangers: A Natural History of Economic Life sums this up very well with the quote "Politicians are in charge of the modern economy in much the same way as a sailor is in charge of a small boat in a storm. The consequences of their losing control completely may be catastrophic (as civil war and hyperinflation in parts of the former Soviet empire have recently reminded us), but even while they keep afloat, their influence over the course of events is tiny in comparison with that of the storm around them. We who are their passengers may focus our hopes and fears upon them, and express profound gratitude toward them if we reach harbour safely, but that is chiefly because it seems pointless to thank the storm”.
But as New York Yankees star "Lefty" Gomez once said "I'd rather be lucky than good."