GET INTO GOLF: Tiger makes unique Captain’s pick
As you know, golf is different than any other game. Well, maybe it’s a sport. Hmmm … let’s get back to that topic at a later date.
Nonetheless, golf, at least from a recreational standpoint, is essentially “cradle to grave.” Children, toddlers around the country are taking a swing at that ball. Granted, they’re not ready for the course. But, they are getting ready for a lifetime of fun.
On the flip side, more and more octogenarians are shooting their age every day. Some of our most experienced players are over 100 years old. Golf is not terribly taxing on the body and the objective is fairly simple – get the ball in the hole.
So, the question becomes … how long can one stay competitive? This is a broad question, but for today, we are going to focus on a Tour caliber player.
For the professional tours, “senior” starts at 50 years of age. This gives us an indication. The oldest player to win a PGA Tour event was Sam Snead, 52 years of age.
The oldest player to win a major on the PGA Tour was Julis Boros, 48 years of age.
A host of players have remained competitive making cuts on the tour into their 60s.
Today, a good number of players are very competitive at or near the age of 50. Davis Love III won the Wyndam Championship a few years ago at 51 years of age. Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk and Stuart Appleby, are a few of the boys nearing the 50 mark that are still competitive on tour.
This takes us to our story. Remaining competitive into an age when one would take on a coaching role allows a special few to enjoy both. Tiger Woods is just such a player. Quickly approaching the age of 44, Tiger was chosen to Captain the 2019 United States President’s Cup Team.
Scheduled during the off years of the biannual Ryder Cup, a team match between Great Britain and the United States, the President’s Cup is composed of an international team (excluding Great Britain).
The United States team is filled by two categorical methods. First is a point system by which players earn their way on the team. This is the simple path. Not easy, but simple.
For a total of 12 players, eight players gain points based on how they finish in events throughout the two years between matches and four players are chosen.
On balance, three of the four players chosen by the Captain are of the next four positions on the points list. Then, there is typically one other player that is not in that top 12. He’s not way down the list. It may be a No. 13 or No. 14 guy.
Perhaps it’s a player who has extensive experience or happens to be playing very well at the time. From memory, Mickelson was picked outside the top 12 for his experience in these international matches.
For this year’s President’s Cup, we have a unique Captain’s pick – the Captain. That’s right, Captain Tiger has chosen Tiger the player. Tiger is playing well (he just won about a month ago) and certainly has the experience.
The challenge, of course, that cannot be underestimated, is to manage and play. Playing requires 100% of one’s attention. The duties of Captain require 50% of your attention. Certainly, there is an ebb and flow.
Prior to the event, the Captain’s duties may require more of you and the playing would require less. The week of the matches, playing would require more than the administration.
Captain’s have assistants (Zach Johnson, Fred Couples and Steve Stricker). The player cannot hand off a shot to a designated hitter.
But you see the point. There are two jobs and only one of you. It’s not going to be easy. The only other time the U.S. Team had a Captain/Player was 1994 with a man named Hale Irwin. Fortunately, it was a winning effort.
As mentioned, golf is wonderfully different from other sports. If you’re good enough, long enough, you can coach and play. The President’s Cup takes place in December and we’ll keep you informed.
John Renslow is a PGA professional, VP of Yugi Golf Management, and provides golf instruction at local courses.
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