There are plenty of people who think that the Ryder Cup captaincy is nothing more than a glorified cheerleader with a nifty earpiece and a golf cart. In general, I don't disagree with this point of view.
Paul Azinger, the U.S. captain, feels differently, I'd think. He was instrumental in last weekend's outcome and spent almost two years laying the groundwork for one of the best American performances in well over a decade. (Yeah, I know, '99 was AWESOME, but, if we're being honest, the U.S. really had no business winning at Brookline.)
[The U.S.] celebrated as a team of 12 following a week in which they were three teams of four.
It was an intriguing concept that Azinger spent nearly two years cooking up. He built his team by doing personality profiles of three dozen potential players and grouping them accordingly.
The aggressive personalities were Kim, Phil Mickelson, Justin Leonard and Hunter Mahan. The "Kentucky" group featured Kenny Perry, J.B. Holmes and Weekley (a Southerner) along with Jim Furyk, the misfit of the group who provided leadership. The emotionally quiet featured Steve Stricker, Ben Curtis, Stewart Cink and Chad Campbell.
They stuck together for three days of practice. Pairings came only from inside their "pod."
Azinger gave them ownership of their group, building team spirit within small groups. But it went beyond the players. He also assigned an assistant captain to each group -- Raymond Floyd got the aggressive bunch, Olin Browne had the Southern group and Dave Stockton was with the other pod.
The AP also reports that during the closing ceremonies (a buffet in the team room), the Americans serenaded the Euros to a rousing rendition of "'Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole,' the European soccer song they had heard while losing the previous three times." I can only imagine that Lee Westwoodwas not impressed.
Not sure how to segue from that to this so I'll just point out this nugget from the post-match partying:
Just as captain Paul Azinger promised, the Americans partied into the morning hours after winning the Ryder Cup.
Egged on by his teammates, Boo Weekley told the story of the time he was a teenager in the Florida Panhandle and paid $5 on 10-to-1 odds that he could land a punch against an orangutan. Weekley finally regained consciousness in the back of a pickup truck.
"That was hilarious," Anthony Kim said. "I could hear that story 100 times and keep laughing."
That sounds about right.