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Jack Nicklaus says Ryder Cup captain should be low key

Jack Nicklaus believes a more relaxed approach to the Ryder Cup captaincy could help the U.S. end a run of three successive defeats by Europe.

Nicklaus, who led the Americans to Cup victory in 1983 and defeat in 1987, has advised 2008 U.S. skipper Paul Azinger to be “hands-off” for this year’s matches in Louisville, Kentucky.

“Get out of the way and let them go play, that’s sort of my feeling,” host Nicklaus, 68, told reporters on Tuesday in the build-up to this week’s Memorial tournament.

“Paul said to me: ‘What do you do?’ I said: ‘Paul, it’s what I don’t do. To me, these guys all got where they got because of their record and how they played. Tell them how to play golf? That’s ridiculous.

“All I do is get out of the way. I ask each guy: ‘Give me who you want to play with and who you don’t want to play with. Who you think you’ll do well with, all those things. And then just go have fun’.”

Nicklaus, who has captained the U.S. to Presidents Cup success against the Internationals in the last two editions, spoke to Azinger for around 90 minutes on the telephone.

“I don’t know whether Paul listened or didn’t,” the 18-times major winner added. “I think he did listen a lot because we talked quite a bit. What he’s going to do, I don’t know.”

Nicklaus cautioned Azinger against complicating the captaincy role, singling out Tom Lehman’s decision to take the entire U.S. team to Ireland before the 2006 Ryder Cup on a two-day reconnaissance.

“To take a whole team over to go play a practice round a month before an event?,” Nicklaus said.

“You give me Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk, who are basically number one, two and three in the world on our team, and they just finished playing all the major championships.

“They all are working their tail off and all of a sudden you say: ‘Okay guys, now we’re going to do something important.’ I mean, come on. Give me a break.”

Nicklaus echoed the long-stated beliefs of world number one Woods that the Ryder Cup would never surpass the four majors in golfing significance.

“Is it (the Ryder Cup) a nice event?” he asked rhetorically. “It’s a great event. Is it different? Absolutely it’s different. Is it exciting? Absolutely it’s exciting. But it’s a goodwill event, it’s for bragging rights.

“I think the U.S. Open or the Masters or British Open are a little bit more than bragging rights. Those are events that stand on the record book.”

The 2008 Ryder Cup will be held from September 19-21 at the Nicklaus-designed Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky where Europe will bid for a seventh victory in 11 editions.


May 28, 2008

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