Foosball Versus Foursomes and Four-balls

September 17, 2008

LOUISVILLE, Ky.--U.S. Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger sounds plenty loose two days before the start of the competition. "Well, I'm going to tell you what, the stress of being a captain is far less than the stress of being a player, I can assure you of that," Azinger said during a question-and-answer session with the media Wednesday afternoon. "I feel no stress as the captain at this point, none whatsoever.

Azinger seemed to prove it earlier with a comedic take on the joys of foosball. (Trust us, it's worth it. Read on.)

__Q. I heard and was not surprised to hear that you've got a foosball table in there [the U.S. team room]. I'm wondering, I know you've played in tournaments, and you're probably one of the best foosball guys in your region of Florida . . . __

CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: No, I'm not [laughing]. I'm the best in my house.

Q. Really, is that it?

CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Yeah, I can dominate the kids that come over from my neighborhood.

Q. Somebody said you'd probably be the king of the team room if somebody was to take you on, and you've probably won more money playing foosball than all the other guys in that room combined. How did you come to arrive upon that, and I heard a story you might have actually sprained your wrist and missed a tournament along the way?

CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: I've never had a foosball injury, I'm proud to say. I know one player on this tour that did have a foosball injury, and I told him I should be the only guy he ever told that to. I won't tell you. I'm heads and tails the most dominant foosball figure in this room. Every night, I own everybody to the point that they won't gamble with me; so I've generated zero revenue for my children's college fund.

Am I one of the best foosball players in our area? No, I'm not. My old caddie, Ted Scott, who caddies for Bubba Watson, was a World Foosball Champion as an amateur. I asked him to teach me how to play foosball. I played it in high school and college and got away from it like everybody else in this room.

I think Pac-Man put foosball out of the way. There's an underground foosball. You can go on and find foosball in every city in the country. I do that. As a matter of fact, when I got here on Saturday, I had a friend text message me that he was coming to the tournament and that there was a foosball party, on all-day foosball party on Saturday, and they were barbecuing and kegs of beer and the whole deal.

I said, "Cool; text me the guy's number. I'll call him when I get in town."

I called him a little later than I wanted, and I called him, he said, "We've got a tournament, it's a pick your partner, it's a blind draw," whatever it was. "We're running another one soon."

Dinner ran late. I called him at 9:30, he gave me directions over the phone, and we probably got--it was 13 miles out of town, and I rolled into this--it was like a crack house for foosball players. [Laughter.] I swear to God, there wasn't a stick of furniture in his house. There was people willy-nilly all over the place.

I don't think anyone is in that house during the week; that they just go out and hang out on the weekends and have a big time. It was a little bit like "Silence of the Lambs" walking in the basement going down there to play foosball. There was 25 people in there, nobody smoked downstairs, it was really hot, had this eerie lighting, concrete block walls, and here I roll in, here comes the captain, and I promise you, not five people knew who I was. They were all totally sweating and totally into their foosball deal.

I played foosball for an hour and a half on Saturday, and I got home after that, something like that. I am a total foosball junkie. I'd like to see foosball get back on ESPN or X Games or something like that, because it is a tremendous game that requires a tremendous amount of skill.

It's a hand-eye game, and I would like to see somebody pick it up. We'll see. Maybe this will help. I can't believe I spent 10 minutes on foosball. I'm really sorry. I want to apologize to all of you about that.

My foosball game, honestly, is very--when I go down there and play with guys like that, I actually held my own, but they figure me out and I end up getting shut down by most people.

--Mike O'Malley