The unforgiving forum of the Ryder Cup can reduce the reputation of men to rubble. This includes captains as much as players. Perhaps even more when you end up running the losing side.
The ebullient, boisterous but ultimately miscalculating Hal Sutton should have changed his moniker to Shallow Hal after Team America's 2004 Ryder Cup flogging at Oakland Hills in Michigan. In hindsight, much of the criticism Sutton suffered was wholly unfair, but why let the facts get in the way of a scapegoat.
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For a man who lifted the 1983 US PGA Championship during a gilded career that brought 14 PGA Tour titles between 1982 and 2001, Sutton achieved as much infamy for his decision-making as Ryder Cup captain 17 years ago.
It has become like an accepted bible in the doctrine of disaster when choosing pairings.
What should have been an honour for Sutton's contribution to the ancient sport ended up in much wailing and gnashing of teeth as his side slumped to a record 18.5-9.5 defeat to Europe, the biggest US defeat in the series of matches since 1927.
Much of the blame was left at the door of poor Hal fighting out of Louisiana.
His crime against sporting logic was simple? He decided to partner Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson – then America's and quite probably the world's two best players – together as a pairing on the opening day of the 35th Ryder Cup matches in Michigan.
Donning a cowboy hat to add a touch of farce to happenings, Sutton was left helpless as Woods and Mickelson – fierce rivals with a healthy dislike for each other as golfers at that juncture – ended up impotent as golf’s dream team saw the American dream quickly turn sour.
A 2&1 loss to Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington, Europe's Ryder Cup captain this time at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, in the morning four-balls was followed by defeat to Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood as they went three up on the outward nine only for the European team to win one up.
The tone of the contest was set with much of the blame being left at the door of an apparently tone-deaf Sutton, who decided to play Woods and Mickelson against the law of logic. Against the warnings of players and media who had warned him about avoiding the Tiger and Mickelson marriage of mistrust.
“I pretty much quit golf after that,” said Sutton. “I took the blame for everything.
Nobody played very good that week. It’s tough as a captain when you aren’t in there and people don’t play well. It’s hard to beat anybody. And when you play well, you beat everybody.
“It’s a thankless job, being a captain.”
The Hal Sutton experience rears its head at every Ryder Cup about how it can all go wrong very quickly for a non-playing leader. It is a lesson in how it can all go haywire for a captain who fails to read the mood music with his choice of chemistry able to explode quicker than a snap hook from a weekend duffer.
Sutton was decisive in opting to play Woods and Mickelson together, but such qualities ironically ended up being his undoing. Mickelson opting to change equipment days before the event and practising away from Woods before the event have failed to shield Sutton from the mists of time when it comes to elbow pointing.
"I felt like if they played together and had fun and beat somebody, they would end up being friends," said Sutton. "They didn't beat anybody. So, you know, it couldn't be their fault, it had to be somebody else’s fault. It had to be Hal Sutton's fault. It had to be."
The US captain Steve Stricker does not seem like such a figure to experiment.
Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau are two sworn enemies in golf, but have been thrown together again in the Ryder Cup set against the backdrop of a war of words, a feud that has been running on social media over the past two years with neither man seemingly keen on the traits of the other on the course or off it.
Yet with five majors lifted over the past four years and both inside the world's top 10, they are key cogs in a US side loaded with quality as 1/2 favourites and bidding to regain the trophy with only a sixth victory in the past 30 years at the 43rd edition of the event.
It is probably inconceivable to envisage Stricker throwing caution to the wind by contemplating an experiment akin to Jerry Lewis in TheNutty Professor, but the Ryder Cup does strange things to the minds of even the most conservative of captains. It is unlikely to be considered even if in an emergency.
When asked if he would take a chance on Brooks and Bryson, Stricker said: "I don't think so at this point," he said, "but things could change. Could always happen. But probably not. But again, I had a dinner; they all showed up.
"We had great conversation, great talks. So I'm not seeing it as an issue at all, and they are completely on board."
As Sutton will testify by trying to meld Tiger and Lefty, it will only be an issue if Stricker makes it one.
The nearest Koepka and DeChambeau should get to each other is during the opening ceremony on Thursday.
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