Ryder Cup play was suspended at 9:45am BST due to heavy rains at the Celtic Manor course in Wales. It was a wonder they were able to play at all in the morning considering the conditions. “It was as bad as I’ve ever seen it…it was awful,” Stewart Cink said of the torrential rains and heavy winds. But just two hours into the matches, all anyone could talk about was the faulty uniforms worn by the U.S. squad.
See Round 1 roundup here:
Coach Corey Pavin’s wife Lisa Pavin’s penchant for fashionable uniforms has been well documented in the weeks leading up to this year’s Ryder Cup. Even trendsetter Ian Poulter wondered over twitter how Tiger would look in the “cornflower” colored sweater-vest that Mrs. Pavin had specially designed for Saturday’s matches. “The Captainess,” as she prefers to be called, was out to re-vamp the team’s image this year – while transforming and increasing the role of the Ryder Cup Captain’s wife in the process.
The Captainess worked closely with Peter Millar and Hickey Freeman to create all of the outfits, including the vintage ‘20s-era baseball rain suits that most of the U.S. team wore this morning. Shockingly, functionality was not taken into account when these designs were put together. The rain suits, made by Sun Mountain, were heavy and barely waterproof. With water leaking through, some players opted to remove the jacket entirely during this morning’s opening matches. By the time play was suspended, PGA of America officials had already scrambled to the merchandise tent to buy functional rain gear for players and caddies. The new rain suits, made by ProQuip, are generic and do not bear the United States logo, but hey, at least they work.
Sure, Mrs. Pavin has succeeded in giving the uniforms an overall upgrade, but the standards weren’t all that high to begin with. Whenever Justin Leonard’s putt from the ’99 matches at Brookline is replayed on television, what’s more incredible than that putt itself is that Captain Ben Crenshaw actually said he put “a lot of thought” into those hideous shirts. Even Tiger, who has a canned statement for just about every question he’s asked, was exceptionally candid about his feelings for the Sunday singles polo from ’99: “I threw it in the fireplace over Christmas and burned it,” Woods told Mark Soltau of ESPN five years later. “It was sooo ugly. It provided more warmth for the house.”
Rick Reilly has the right idea when it comes to team uniforms. “This whole team-uniform thing is confining, nonsensical and ruinous. If I were captain, as soon as I had my team, I’d have a list of everything the player wears week to week. I’d call those companies and have them send me a blank version of it – the shirt, the pants, the rain suit, everything. Then you’d simply have your Ryder Cup staff fill in the USA logos.”
Lisa Pavin entered the Ryder Cup with high hopes for her position as the Captain’s wife. “I want to win the Ryder Cup more than anything. That’s all my life has been about lately,” she told Avid Golfer Magazine last month. The Captainess graced the magazine’s cover draped in nothing but an American flag. “When the Ryder Cup is over, I want the PGA of America to remember the positive ideas and inputs, and hopefully, they have something to remember me by.”
Lisa Pavin will certainly be remembered by the PGA of America – for completely disregarding the fact that the purpose of a rain suit is to keep the player dry so he can perform at the highest level possible during the most difficult wet weather conditions.
It’s not just the role of the captain’s wife that needs to be lessened or just eliminated all together. The sappy, contrived events preceding the Ryder Cup matches are enough to make even Jim Nantz roll his eyes. All of the inspirational speeches, the press conferences and ceremonies, the galas, photo shoots, and other meaningless events have absolutely nothing to do with the task at hand.
Somewhere between trying to figure out what color socks players should wear during Tuesday’s practice round and which WAG would be the least uncomfortable sitting next to Tiger at dinner, Corey Pavin and his wife lost sight of what The Ryder Cup is all about.
Want to win the Ryder Cup, or even the President’s Cup for that matter? Here are a few tips for all future captains of the U.S. team. Let the players prepare how they want to prepare and let them decide who they want to play with. Drop all the galas, luncheons, ceremonies, and pretentious events. Have the wives show up for the first round of matches if they want to. Get rid of high-profile distractions like Michael Jordan and the impractical uniforms. Only then will it be all about the golf, which will, in turn, result in better play.