'Play with Passion'

Sutton's message to US Ryder Cup team

Bob Warters's picture
Mon, 28 Oct 2002

Hal sutton - passionate.

Look out for fireworks when Hal Sutton begins his reign as Ryder Cup captain for the US team in 2004 – he has a strategy to inject more passion into his team.

The 44-year-old straight-talking, former PGA champion from Louisiana reckons the Americans – and especially Tiger Woods – should care more about representing their nation.

When he hears the US anthem Sutton says it stirs him to hold his clenched right fist over his heart.

A similar attitude from all his players might make the difference between winning and losing, he claims.

When the Europeans head for Oakland Hills in two years time Sutton will be teaming his best players together instead of pairing the pals.

Too often, Ryder Cup players have been coddled, he says. They get to play alternate-shot matches with their friends, instead of with teammates whose skills mesh with theirs.

Sutton will put his four best players into a pair of foursomes partners "to secure points" – and that could mean pairing Woods and Phil Mickelson together and it’s common knowledge that while the World No.1 and 2 respect each others’ abilities, they would never be on each others’ Christmas card list.

But the captain doesn’t want compatibility – he wants points and though the two are fierce rivals, he feels their class will compliment.

"What we need to do is put some of our best players together, our very best players, and try to secure two matches every time we go out there. If we come through on the other two, we're either going to either be 3-1 or 4-0. I think the thing that's hurt us the most is we have been behind most times going into Sunday and all the pressure is on us."

Sutton says he also wants Tiger to try to start matching the Ryder Cup record of Jack Nicklaus who won 17 of his 28 Ryder Cup matches, halving three more. Tiger, he pointed out, has lost eight out of 16 – gaining only six points.

"Tiger parallels his career to Jack Nicklaus," says Sutton. "I would like to challenge Tiger to look at Jack Nicklaus' Ryder Cup record. Let's go get that one, too."

Sutton agrees he’s in for some sleepless nights before the next matches as his team takes shape – but that’s nothing new for the the double Tournament Players Championship winner who suffers from a rare medical condition – sleep apnea.

It used to mean that up to 40 times an hour he would stop breathing and his brain would keep telling him to wake up. Now he’s hooked up to a machine at night which helps him to breathe continuously and he’s gradually regaining his playing form.

But lack of sleep could be the least of his worries if European players continue to show improvement and can re-produce the passion and determination that Sutton envies.

*One of the players who could be face the might of Hal Sutton's US team in 2004 could be Yorkshireman Simon Dyson. You have the chance to play with him in a free-to-enter competition. Give it a go!



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