Bring back Zinger. That was the message from a lot of American fans on social media after the U.S. lost a third-straight Ryder Cup on Sunday at Gleneagles.
Shortly after the 16.5-11.5 loss, Phil Mickelson joined the chorus, calling for the return of Paul Azinger, the last man to lead the U.S. to a Ryder Cup win in 2008 at Valhalla.
“We had a great formula in ’08,” Mickelson said. “I don’t know why we strayed. I don’t know why we don’t go back. What Zinger did was great.”
The U.S. won in ’08 by the same margin the Europeans did at Gleneagles. Azinger employed what he called the Pod system, creating three groups of four players that bonded over practice and social events, then played together in the team matches. The pods were organized based on a variation of the Myers-Briggs personality test, creating three archetypes: the aggressors, the grinders and the rednecks.
Mickelson continued waxing romantically about the Zinger captaincy in the American team’s post-closing ceremony news conference, reiterating the same points as he did to NBC. He also said no player was involved in any playing decision this week.
Outgoing captain Tom Watson took the criticism somewhat in stride, saying he had a “different philosophy” than Azinger, adding, “It takes 12 players to win, not pods.”
Mickelson’s comments may as much be an endorsement of an Azinger return as a slam on Watson. Watson sat Mickelson in both Saturday sessions, marking the first time in 21 years Mickelson did not see a match in a full Ryder Cup day. The 65-year-old Watson told the media Mickelson had texted him asking for a chance to play, but that he had to tell Mickelson no.