Lefty leads lobbying for Azinger

The European celebration was barely started at the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles when Jason Dufner suggested how the United States might turn the tide of eight Euro victories in the last 10 matches.

Only minutes after the Europeans’ 16 1/2-11 1/2 victory was complete, The Duf, who was unable to play in Scotland because of a neck injury, took to Twitter and wrote: “@PaulAzinger #2016.”

Azinger was the U.S. captain the last time the Americans won the Ryder Cup, with a resounding 16 1/2-11 1/2 victory at Valhalla.

Dufner did not play on that U.S. team, but somebody who did also expressed his opinion that at least Azinger’s method is what the United States needs to turn things around in two years at Hazeltine.

“Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula in 2008 for the last three Ryder Cups, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best,” said Phil Mickelson at Sunday’s closing press conference, while sitting only a few seats from Captain Tom Watson.  “I don’t know why we don’t go back. What ‘Zinger’ did was great.”

Azinger used what he called a pod system, in which he put his 12 players into three groups of four and kept them together through practice rounds and into the matches.

Before the U.S. team went to Scotland, Azinger offered his help to Watson, captain of the last American victory on European soil in 1993 at the Belfry in England.

Watson, who chose to go his own way, did not think Mickelson was being disloyal.

“Not at all,” said the 65-year-old Watson, the oldest captain in Ryder Cup history. “He has a difference of opinion. That’s OK. My management philosophy is different than (Azinger’s). … I had a different philosophy as far as being a captain of this team. It takes 12 players to win.

“It’s not pods. It’s 12 players. And I felt, yes, I did talk to the players, but my vice captains (Andy North, Steve Stricker and Raymond Floyd) were very instrumental in making decisions as to whom to pair with. I had a different philosophy than Paul. I decided not to go that way.”

Billy Horschel, who did not make the U.S. team despite claiming the FedEx Cup with two victories and a runner-up finish in the last three events of the PGA Tour playoffs, also offered suggestions on Twitter for 2016: “#rydercup2016…. Fred Couples or Paul Azinger.”

Couples has captained the U.S. to three consecutive victories over the International team in the Presidents Cup.

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