7 potential U.S. captains for 2032 Ryder Cup at Olympic Club
It sounds crazy, but the 2032 Ryder Cup at Olympic Club isn't quite as far away as it may seem.
When those matches roll around, for instance, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas will still be in their 30s. And who knows what their respective major tallies will be by then?
Captain America, Patrick Reed, will be 42 and no doubt prepared to run through another brick wall for the U.S.
Since it's going to be a prime-time Ryder Cup, we're surely going to see a prime-time captain.
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Allow us, if you will, to look 15 years into the future. Here's our list of seven potential U.S. captains for the Olympic Club matches.
Notes: This -- we think -- would be Tiger's second go-round as U.S. captain. He's a candidate because this Ryder Cup will be in his home state and it's also right down the road from his beloved Stanford University. He's also a candidate because, well, he's Tiger Woods! The game and the players today owe so much to Woods. He strikes you as one of those people who, when he becomes captain, could be in control for as long as he'd want to be. If Tiger Woods wants to be a captain for multiple Ryder Cups -- and he's successful -- who's going to tell that man, "no?"
Notes: Even at age 62, Mickelson would not be the oldest captain in U.S. history. Tom Watson was the oldest to lead the U.S. when he captained the 2014 matches at Gleneagles at the age of 65 years and 22 days. With the youth being so well served on these 20-teens teams, it's reasonable to think many of them will be playing in 2032. And if we know anything, it's that they all love Mickelson. No U.S. player has more Ryder Cup experience than Mickelson (11 straight and counting as of 2017). And his run of Ryder Cup appearances isn't likely to be topped by anyone, even by the year 2032. It's hard to imagine that even at the age of 62, Mickelson wouldn't still command a strong voice in the U.S. backroom.
Notes: He's won majors at Augusta National and St. Andrews. He's a double-digit PGA Tour winner. He's been a member of five U.S. Ryder Cup teams and counting. Johnson fits the bill for a U.S. captaincy. Will 2032 be the year?
Notes: Will Kuchar have won a major before then? It would certainly help his prospects. A fun note on Kuchar at Olympic Club -- he was the low amateur there in 1998 when, as the reigning U.S. Amateur Champion, he tied for 14th. Even without a major, one would think Kuchar is in that Steve Stricker-esque gray area. Neither are major winners, but with the stellar careers they've enjoyed, the number of team events they've played in and the respect they have from their peers, surely they're deserving.
Notes: This one could be a wildcard. Through 2017, Watson is a two-time Masters champion with nine PGA Tour wins and three Ryder Cup appearances. As the No. 7-ranked player in the world, however, Watson was looked over as a captain's pick for the 2016 matches. Many thought that said something about Watson's chemistry with others in the team setting. However, he lobbied to help Davis Love III that week as an assistant captain and the players and captains raved about how helpful Watson was. Instead of the perceived snub putting a chip on his shoulder, Watson pushed it aside and still asked to be there at Hazeltine to help in any capacity that was needed. But still -- does he have the kind of demeanor of someone the U.S. would want as a captain? He has 15 years to accumulate more highlights on his resume and, perhaps most importantly, prove that he can get wiser and more mature with age. A couple more Ryder Cups as a player would certainly help.
Notes: Crazy, you say. But not really. As we sit in 2017, it's pretty clear that Spieth isn't going anywhere anytime soon. He's already a leader on U.S. Ryder Cup teams. Don't expect that to change. Provided it doesn't happen before 2032, Spieth would be the first U.S. playing captain since a then 34-year-old Arnold Palmer in 1963. It's not completely out of the realm of possibility. The only question, really, would be: Does Spieth want the double duty? It's an enormous responsibility and given all the work captains have in preparing for a Ryder Cup, it would mean Spieth might need to neglect his game at times. If he's chasing golf history then at the same clip he is now, it doesn't seem like he'd be up for it. Then again, the prospect of being the first playing captain for the U.S. since Arnie has to be intriguing. Remember, this is the same player who asked his caddie Michael Greller at the 2017 Masters, "What would Arnie do?"
Notes: Fowler -- the fan-favorite, modern-day mix of Fred Couples and Arnold Palmer -- has some resume building to do over the next 15 years. Like Spieth, he could be a playing captain. Or, he could simply be a young, non-playing captain. Is there anyone who doesn't like Fowler? Yeah. Didn't think so. When the U.S. famously created its committee to figure out a way to stop losing Ryder Cups after the 2014 matches, Fowler was embraced and included to be the voice of the younger players on Tour. He commands incredible respect. Sure, he has Ryder Cup experience already and surely has more to come, but the win total -- one would think -- would need to far exceed its current mark of "4" and it sure would be nice if he could add a major win to the mix. It would seem a U.S. captaincy is there for Fowler in the future if he can just check off a few more boxes.