Hal Sutton Named Ryder Cup Captain
It wasn't a surprise Thursday when Hal Sutton was formally introduced as captain of the United States' Ryder Cup team for the Sept. 17-19, 2004, matches on Oakland Hills Country Club's famed South Course.
But Sutton spiced the announcement by saying he won't play games with the course setup and he challenged Tiger Woods to match Jack Nicklaus' Ryder Cup record and dedication to the biennial matches between America's best professional golfers and Europe's 12 best.
Additionally, after the press conference, Bob Gigliotti, chairman of the event for Oakland Hills, said the club is considering banning the sale of beer on the golf course. The large party of Oakland Hills officials who attended the raucous 1999 matches in suburban Boston and then the well-behaved renewal last month at The Belfry in Sutton Coldfield, England, was chagrined with the Boston behavior and impressed with the European response where beer was not permitted on the course.
Asked by The Michigan Golfer if he would set up Oakland Hills to favor his team, as European captain Sam Torrance did last month at The Belfry narrowing the fairways in the long driving zone, slowing the greens and moving the tee on the short par 4 10th hole to discourage players from trying to drive the green Sutton said:
"I don't want to beat the Europeans with the course setup. I want to beat them with sterling play."
Sutton said he believes the PGA of America "will do the job. I trust them. I'm going to leave the setup to them. At the PGA Championship at Hazeltine this year when the weather turned bad, they moved the tee up on the (very difficult) 16th hole to make it a fair test."
Of Woods, the World's top-ranked golfer but an indifferent Ryder Cup performer (5-8-2 won-lost-tied record in three appearances), Sutton said Woods' goal is to beat Jack Nicklaus's record in major championships and that he should make it a goal to match the Golden Bear's Ryder Cup record of 17-8-3.
"Tiger is, if not the greatest, one of the greatest we've seen. Before long, Tiger's going to shine in the Ryder Cup," Sutton said.
Noting that the Americans rarely talked to each other while walking down the fairways and never read each other's putts, as the Europeans did, Sutton said he doesn't think the Europeans "are more passionate but they play together better.
"We need our talent to shine. It wants to, it just hasn't. We have to play not for ourselves but for each other, for the team. It's not asking too much to be a team for a week, is it?"
Sutton, 44, a member of four Ryder Cup teams and with a 7-5-4 record, has a bulldog competitor reputation and was an anchor of the 1999 team that staged a record Sunday rally for only the third American victory in eight matches. After losing, 15-1/2 to 12-1/2 last month, the mark now is just three victories in the last nine matches.
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