#AskAlan: Will Tiger Woods be U.S. Ryder Cup captain in 2020?

January 9, 2019

So Paddy Harrington was named 2020 Ryder Cup captain. Who do you have at the top of the U.S. pick? ’22? 2024 at Bethpage Black: Who’s the U.S. captain, Phil or Tiger? #AskAlan -Brett (@BFlynn27)

In this post-Task Force era, you have to look at the vice captains, since there is an emphasis on continuity. Steve Stricker is the obvious choice for 2020, with the Cup being in Wisconsin, at Whistling Straits. He’s been in plenty of Ryder Cup team rooms and served as captain of the 2017 Presidents Cup, so Stricker has the v.c.

The big question is whether golf’s shyest, most unassuming star wants to deal with all of the attendant hassles and pressures that come with the job. Only Stricker knows the answer to that. If he takes a pass, that leaves ’18 vice captains Matt Kuchar (40 years old), Zach Johnson (42), and David Duval (47). I’m sure both of those first two names want to try to play their way onto one more team. Duval is a bit of a wild card – a lone wolf as a player, not part of the Ryder clique over the last decade as he concentrated on TV, but a big hit in his surprise role in Paris. I think the analytical Duval would make a helluva captain but ultimately expect Stricker to get talked into taking the job by his many friends who are part of the U.S. side. After that, it lines up for Zach Johnson in ’22, Phil in ’24 and Tiger in ’26.

Steve Stricker (left) and Tiger Woods were both vice captains of the 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup team.
Steve Stricker (left) and Tiger Woods were both vice captains of the 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup team.

#AskAlan Since Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, teed it up in the 16th century have you ever seen as dainty a drop as Bryson DeChambeau’s at Kapalua? -@CountDownDave

Up until Xander’s closing pyrotechnics, that was honestly the most riveting part of the week. Apparently the blue coats at the USGA are evil geniuses, because they have turned something as mundane as a penalty drop into must-see TV!

Do you think Xander Schauffle will win in “X.S.” of 20 PGA Tour events? That number seems to be the diving line between a good player and a great career. -@HogansBookLied

I’m loving how Xander has suddenly gone from underrated to overrated! I mean, 20 PGA Tour wins is a monster achievement, guaranteeing a spot in the Hall of Fame. In the post-Watson epoch, only Tiger, Phil, Vijay, Shark and Davis Love made it to 20 wins. (Ernie stalled at 19 but makes up for it with dozens of victories around the world.) Dustin (19) will get there, and Rory (14) had better. Spieth (11) seems like a lock and Justin Thomas (9) is a good bet, too. This is very, very elite company. I love Schauffele’s game and his composure, and at 25 he has many good years in front of him. But 20 Tour wins is a tall mountain to climb.

That was an absolutely shocking final round from Rory. -@RalphWardlaw

Was it, though? Did you watch the final round of last year’s Masters or Tour Championship? Do you remember the three-footer Rory blew on the back nine at Carnoustie to torpedo his bid? Unfortunately, his Sunday letdowns have become a thing. For sure, a player’s weaknesses are magnified by pressure, and McIlroy’s woebegone Sundays have featured shaky putting and sloppy wedge play. But the problem appears to be metaphysical. At the first sign of distress, the bouncy strut disappears, the shoulders slump and Rory loses all of his alpha energy. I’m not sure what the cure is for that. Unfortunately, I’m not sure McIlroy knows, either.

Rory McIlroy during the final round of the 2019 Tournament of Champions.
Rory McIlroy during the final round of the 2019 Tournament of Champions.

How many tournaments will Gary ‘I can putt now (ignore the 72nd hole for birdie)’ Woodland win this year? #AskAlan -@EthanZimman

Well, the putt that mattered the most was the 10-footer for birdie on the 72nd hole, so it’s kind of hard to ignore that one. And Woodland remains oh-fer-his-career in protecting 54-hole leads. And his weekend play at last year’s PGA Championship was particularly painful. So, while there are few guys I’d rather watch swing the club, the winning formula remains elusive for Woodland. Some guys figure it out later in life (paging Kenny Perry), but Woodland is 34 – it’s approaching the now-or-never stage.

How about opening up the Maui tournament to winners of European Tour events, too? -@HanfordChris

This is the best idea I’ve heard in a while. The problem with the T o’ C now is that a bunch of veterans are rusty and/or treating it like a working vacation, and the rookies are distracted having to host a dozen family members and/or don’t know how to play the course or handle the winds, so the whole tournament comes down to maybe ten dudes. A deeper field would lead to more action on the leaderboard.

Would you putt with the pin in for as long as it remains legal if it meant your sorry ass finally got an ace? -@ShutFaceGolf

Owing to some nasty rainstorms, a tragic workload and my kids being on break, I haven’t pegged it yet in 2019, so I can’t render a verdict on how it feels to putt with the pin in. But I’m certainly going to give it a good trial! Making putts is the hardest part of the game, so if it helps visually, or if the flag occasionally knocks a putt or two into the hole, my sorry ass is all for it.

I think the flagstick will be a nightmare for my weekend group (20+ guys blind draw) as the flag will go in and out based on individual preference. What is your take? #AskAlan I won’t be able to find out until better weather here in the Northeast. -John (@jkellegrew)

I was interested in Bryson’s comments from Maui talking about not wanting to disrupt his playing partners being part of the decision-making on how to use the pin. I agree that it could get complicated. For sure it will be a time-saver when everyone has long putts but all of us are going to have to learn the dance of navigating short putts when some players want the pin in and some don’t.

Who are the big 3? -@JimmyLobus

Are we still doing this? If I have to answer this question –I really don’t, but we’ve already come this far – I’ll say Brooks, Jordan & Dustin. But Spieth is coming off his worst year, and over the last 18 months Justin Thomas has been far superior. Meanwhile, Johnson has shown a tragic inability to win majors despite his many chances. Also, Rose’s consistent excellence probably merits a spot but he turns 39 this year so the window is presumably gonna start closing. And even though Rory hasn’t been Rory in about five years he could stake an emeritus claim. Ugh, now I wish I had never touched this question…

Going to the Masters for the first time this year. What are the must-do items at the course? -@tobassco17

Too soon! I need at least another six weeks of treacly piano music before I can begin to think of such things.

Would you pay $5 a month for PGA Tour Live? -@RobFord58

Sadly, I’d probably pay a lot more than that.