Tour Confidential: Who will be the next Ryder Cup captain? And should players get paid?

Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele of Team United States talk following the Sunday singles matches of the 2023 Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf Club on October 01, 2023 in Rome, Italy.

Should Ryder Cuppers be paid?

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Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors as they break down the hottest topics in the sport, and join the conversation by tweeting us @golf_com. This week, we discuss the Ryder Cup pay controversy, the next U.S. captain, the TGL’s impending debut and more.

1. More Ryder Cup news broke in the days after players departed Rome. The Times, based in London, spoke to Stefan Schauffele, the father of Xander Schauffele, who said that Xander and Patrick Cantlay were in a contract disagreement with the PGA of America over a player participation and benefit agreement they wanted amended in three places. Stefan said they were threatened to be removed from the team, although it eventually got sorted out. How much would this have changed the narrative if this was out the week of the event? And does this bit of news change your opinion on what happened last week?

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Josh Sens, senior writer (@joshsens): The main themes would have been the same but it would have changed the tone, in part by exposing Cantlay for being coy and disingenuous in his answers about the pay-to-play question. He was able to deflect and defuse the issue somewhat by saying getting paid wasn’t an issue for him, when clearly it was. If he’d been forthright, the heckling, I suspect, would have been even more intense on Sunday. Also, Cantlay might not have been able to get away with falsely branding a reporter as a liar.

Sean Zak, senior editor (@Sean_Zak): Yeah, likely changes the tenor of press conferences, and even perhaps the ribbing by fans in Rome. Cantlay was the only player to really face any gruff from spectators, and that was pretty playful if anything. I’d say this re-informs my opinion rather than changes anything.

Zephyr Melton, assistant editor (@zephyrmelton): Agree with my colleagues above. It was obvious in the lead-up that Cantlay and Schauffele were not on the same page as their teammates (skipping the scouting trip), and now we know why. Just another distraction that kept Team USA from playing their best.

Jack Hirsh, assistant editor (@JR_HIRSHey): Pay shouldn’t be a distraction in the Ryder Cup. It wasn’t for one team. I don’t think it changes my opinion on what happened as it’s always been clear the Europeans get up for the Ryder Cup while it’s more of an obligation for the Americans. I’m, regrettably, not surprised.

2. Ever since Rome, Ryder Cup compensation has been a huge conversation topic with multiple players and major champs weighing in. So, what say you? Should players get paid or compensated in any way (other than what they currently receive) if they make a Ryder Cup team? If so, what’s your idea to make it work for all parties?

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Sens: I think the players should be compensated, but aren’t they already in the form of a tax-deductible charitable donation made in their name? If that charitable donation needs to be increased, based on some percentage of total Ryder Cup revenues, so be it. That seems like a fair arrangement. If a player doesn’t like that, the PGA of America should tell them, You don’t like the terms? No problem. Stay home. We’ll find someone else. There would be no shortage of takers. I’d like to hear the conversation between that player and his agent when the agent informs him how much he missed out on sponsorship opportunities by skipping the Ryder Cup–which is another way these guys profit from the event.

Zak: Players should absolutely be compensated for successful play, a la the rest of their schedule. If your team wins, you earn 1/12th cut of the $12,000,00 purse. If your team doesn’t win, you go home empty-handed. 

Hirsh: No. This doesn’t seem to be a problem for the Europeans and they have won A LOT of Ryder Cups over the past 40 years. I agree with Sens. If the charitable donation isn’t enough for you, there are plenty of other interested candidates.

Melton: I am fully on board with players getting paid, but it’s not a hill I’ll die on. I will say it has gotten tiring talking about money in golf all the time. I suppose I need to watch more amateur golf to get away from that dialogue.

Hirsh: I’m on board with this Zephyr. The Walker Cup is a great time.

3. All eyes are now on who will captain the 2025 squad when the Ryder Cup comes to Bethpage Black in New York. Davis Love III recently said the first call should be made to Tiger Woods, to see if he’s interested. Who do you think should captain that team?

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Sens: Woods should be the first choice. And the second. And the third.

Zak: Woods should definitely take on that role, because if not, when? He may not want to take on an international captaincy, given the added travel considerations. Really, the best scenario is Woods as a playing captain again — and before you rush to call me crazy — playing just the lone singles match on Sunday. That’s right, eliminate the hard sit-or-play decisions by making yourself a pick. Then save up your energy for one match and triumph out of pure intimidation alone. Who wants to go against Tiger Woods in singles in front of 50,000 fire-breathing New Yorkahs?

Hirsh: I like that idea, Sean, although, I’m not sure if a 49-year-old Tiger Woods with a fused right ankle will be able to walk Bethpage Black for even just 18 holes, let alone play a singles match. The best thing about being a captain is he can take a cart! Plus if there’s anyone who can rally the U.S. team to get their **** together, it’s the GOAT himself.

Melton: I think a Tiger captaincy would be amazing, but I don’t think it’s going to change the outcome at Bethpage. The Americans are going to win — and win big — no matter who the skipper is in two years. The home-field advantage will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

4. Phil Mickelson, as a 12-time Ryder Cupper and fan favorite in the New York area, has long been considered a strong candidate to captain the U.S. on Long Island in 2025, but Mickelson has had a complicated last few years in pro golf. What would have to change between now and the time captains are selected for him to get the call? Or is it too little, too late for Phl, even if he wanted the job?

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Sens: Love him or hate him . . well, that’s the point. Mickelson is a deeply polarizing figure. Why would you want that in a Ryder Cup captain? You wouldn’t.

Zak: There is a 0.0001% chance Phil Mickelson is the next captain. That decision is made in the next two months, basically. Could he earn one after that? Definitely. A lot can happen in two year’s time.  

Hirsh: I don’t think Phil has any chance of being the Ryder Cup captain for Bethpage and that’s unfortunate, because it was a perfect setup for him. However, with all the statements he’s made over the past few years, I’m sure he knew it could cost him the job.

Melton: It seems to be too little, too late for Phil in 2025. He’s been too controversial in recent years to have a serious bid.

5. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy’s new golf league, TGL, made several key announcements last week as it readies for a January debut. There’s a TV deal with ESPN, 16 of the 18 players are confirmed and the league will consist of 15 3-vs.-3 matches. What are your thoughts on the league as it starts to develop?

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Sens: My thoughts are that I am definitely not the target market for what strikes me as a painfully boring concept. Then again, I am also not the target market for a ton of wildly popular televised events. I’m sure the TGL will kill it.

Zak: I think it’s doing all the right things right now. It’s going to use the hype train of the NCAAF title game for its debut. Then the same with the NFL playoffs a week later. It has most of the names you’d want. But will we want TGL Boston to beat TGL Atlanta? Actually getting people to cheer for made-from-thin-air golf teams is probably too difficult a task and is bound to look a bit hokey. 

Hirsh: Tiger-endorsed golf on Monday nights when no other sports are playing? Sign me up! Heck, we’re having watch parties at my place. Will I care who wins or loses? Probably not. Will the novelty of it probably wear off after the first few weeks? Probably so. Will I watch any time Tiger is playing? Absolutely. I went to a set of games for Big 3 Basketball in Philly once and this strikes me as something similar. Allen Iverson’s team played Dr. J’s team that night and that got the Philly faithful into it. Tiger and Rory have that same effect on the national golf audience, if not stronger.

Melton: I’m intrigued, but I don’t think it’ll be appointment television. We shall see.

6. Shell Bay Club, located in Hallandale Beach, Fla., boasts a 7,254-yard Greg Norman-designed course and a, wait for it, $1 million initiation fee. Congratulations, your fee has been waived for a club of your choice. Where are you joining?

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Sens: Location, location, location. Claremont CC, in Oakland, Calif., home to a terrific sub-6,000-yard Alister Mackenzie course that happens to be within walking distance from my house.

Zak: Love Claremont! If it wasn’t so close to Sens’ house, I’d have to consider. I’m probably joining The Dunes Club in southeast Michigan. I love the idea of just playing nine holes in the woods, looping around a second time from different tees and driving back to Chicago when the day is done. 

Sens: Great call on both the Dunes and avoiding my turf, Sean. Sensitive youngsters like yourself wouldn’t survive the regular thrashing. 

Hirsh: I live in the Philly area. I don’t think I need to answer this one (aggressively winks). 

Melton: Can I just play Pasatiempo every day for my remaining years?

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