August 13, 2008

Don't Trust Anyone Over 30

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Are Holmes, Snedeker, Trahan and O'Hair the Ryder Cup youth movement?

The weekend scores from the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills CC are what they are.

Brandt Snedeker (74-73). Sean O'Hair (76-73). D.J. Trahan (76-72).

And that's doesn't include the most disappointing Sunday number in Paul Azinger's ideal scenario of American players playing their way onto the Ryder Cup team. J.B. Holmes (81).

But forget how the youth movement finished in the marathon last Sunday in Michigan. Although none of the four twentysomethings showed any closing power, those four players represent the future of American golf and Azinger should consider adding them to his Ryder Cup team.

With Tiger Woods injured and unable to play the Ryder Cup for the first time since he turned pro, this year's matches set up to be either the biggest blowout or biggest upset in Ryder Cup history, and as the United States is coming off back-to-back nine-point losses, it's hard to believe it can get any worse. With Woods laid up, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Stewart Cink and Kenny Perry represent the veteran leadership leading Zinger's team into Louisville against what will be a heavily favored European team.

The game has never been more global. The only American flags on the first page of the PGA Championship leaderboard were next to the names of Ben Curtis (third), Steve Flesch (sixth) and Mickelson (T-7). Curtis, along with Furyk, Steve Stricker and Anthony Kim were Azinger's only top-10 finishers at Royal Birkdale.

Keep going down the list of PGA scores: Ken Duke (T-13) and David Toms (T-15) are the only other Americans in the top-20. Aside from Stricker, who was bumped from the team at the last minute when Curtis leaped past him to seventh on the final Cup standings, there aren't many choices with Ryder Cup experience that can help his team.

When Azinger makes his picks on Sept. 2, he shouldn't pick a player who is more than 30 years old. Snedeker, O'Hair, Trahan and Holmes should experience the pressure of international team competition before they reach that milestone birthday. And what better place than a good, old Southern city that will get itself worked up when Zinger throws them out against Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia and those beer-swilling renegades from Europe who have come to our country and stolen Samuel Ryder's trophy.

Here are some other reasons for Azinger to add the four youngsters to his team.

If Azinger doesn't like one of the previously mentioned foursome, he still has choices. Hunter Mahan, who didn't make the cut at the PGA, but who gained international experience at last year's Presidents Cup. Or Jeff Quinney, one of the best putters on tour. Or if he's looking for a hot hand, he can select Parker McLaughlin, the winner at Reno.

Azinger has said experience means nothing. Now it's time for the future of American golf to gain some.