Ryder Cup Logo Ryder Cup: Team USASeptember 22-24 2006, The K Club, Straffan, County Kildare, Ireland
Story Image The Americans just didn't put the ball in the hole, said Tom Lehman (right). (Photo: AP)

No quick fixes for U.S. Ryder Cup team, says Lehman

After the big shocker at the K Club, U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Lehman was at a loss to explain this defeat and the losing streak. He felt like he didn't leave too many bases uncovered, and wanted some time to reflect.

September 25, 2006

STRAFFAN, Ireland (PA) -- There are no quick-fix solutions to the United States' Ryder Cup malaise, says Captain Tom Lehman.

Their defeat at the K Club on Sunday was the USA's fifth in six meetings and the third in succession, despite this year's team boasting the top three players in the world in Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk.

Lehman was genuinely thought to be the man to stop the losing streak, but even the more considered, thoughtful approach of the 1996 British Open champion failed to produce any improvement. Even he was at a loss to explain the defeat and the general decline.

"You know, I think I need to think about that some. I need to just sit back, let a few days go by and just try to figure what we could have done better," he said. "You always probably have to think about what we could have done better, what we could have changed to make it work out better.

"I'm not really sure we left too many bases uncovered," he added. "But at the end of the day, you still have to put that ball in the hole and that didn't work out very well."

Criticism in the United States will undoubtedly touch on a qualification system that was tweaked after the 2004 loss. In the end, four rookies -- J.J. Henry, Zach Johnson, Vaughn Taylor and Brett Wetterich -- made the team, and at least two of them had to get a passport in order to play as they had never left home shores before.

One truth is that the PGA Tour is not as strong as it once was in comparison to the European Tour. Even though nearly every event carries more world ranking points and prize money than its European counterpart, the American players are not benefiting.

The Americans have only five players in the world's top 20. Europe, in contrast, now has eight players in there, despite many of them splitting their time between the two tours and so therefore not competing for the same amount of ranking points week in week out.

"We have extremely talented players on our tour," said Lehman. "Things all have cycles and there will be a time when we'll be sitting here saying to the Europeans 'this is in danger of becoming in a little bit of trouble because the American team are on top.' You know that will happen. Our guys are great guys and great players."

At the same time, Lehman stressed, his players have the utmost respect for the Europeans and explained that his troops socialized with the winners Sunday night.

"There's a lot of mutual respect between the teams because we do play a lot of golf against each other," he said. "More than anything, we're still friends. The general idea was this is the way the Ryder Cup is supposed to finish and I certainly hope that the next time the U.S. team wins, we'll be as gracious in winning as they were."

Copyright 2006 PA Sport. All rights reserved.

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