The Round Table: are ties ok for international team events?

Each week we ask our panel of writers, PGA members and golf industry experts to weigh in with their views on the hot topics of the day.

The Solheim Cup ended in a 14-14 tie but according to the rules, defending champion Team Europe retains the Cup. Team USA captain Stacy Lewis mused that there should be a playoff while many in the U.S. media lambasted the result and some even claimed that the Americans had won. Are you ok with a tie and the defenders retaining the Cup or would you prefer some sort of playoff to determine a clear winner?

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): Why does there always have to be a winner?  I thought it was a great competition, and with a tie, both teams can hold their heads up high for a job well done. Leave it at that.  Who really cares where the trophy resides?  History will record the match as a draw.

Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): I hate ties especially in team events, but historically this is how this competition as designed. That the team who is the defending champion is essentially ahead to start the week. I’d like to see a playoff format decided on, sudden death 1 v 1 (captains pick their representatives) or 1 team each in a four-ball sudden death, after all it is a team event. I’d take anything other than a tie.

Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: I’m so tired of people questioning the legitimacy of results. I have volunteered to run things most of my life. When I mess up, tell me and we will fix it. But don’t open with guns blazing making stupid, unfounded accusations that have no basis or merit. There isn’t much difference between a tie which results in retaining the cup and a playoff which results in winning the cup. Either way, the last putt is still important, and the cup goes home with someone. The matches originated to promote goodwill. Having a playoff reduces that goodwill.

TJ Rule, GolfAway Tours (@GolfAwayTJ):  Wonder if they would have had similar responses if they had won the last one.  It’s been this way forever, feels like sour grapes when the rule doesn’t work in your favour.  I’m not sure there is a better way to resolve it.  It was exciting watching Ernie and Tiger battle it out in South Africa when they tied, but to have one player on each team play one hole to decide a team event, that kind of feels like a soccer shootout to me.  So, I like the rule the way it is, if you’re trying to knock the champ off the hill, you need to beat them, fair and square.

Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: Had the valiant Americans been defending the Cup and had heroically fought back for a tie, there would not have been one moment that Team USA or Team USA Media would have called for a playoff. All the Yanks knew the rules going in. In all the pre-Cup navel gazing in prime time by Lewis and Co., not once did they intimate that the long-accepted format should be changed to have a playoff in case of a tie. A playoff would be good for TV, said Lewis. Hey, bulletin! That ain’t the point of the exercise, and BTW, 14-14 was great drama and television around the rest of the known world.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): I’m ok with a draw. Both teams played well and there was plenty of drama. Any sort of contrived playoff that utilized less than the full team would be an injustice to the rest of the team members, regardless of the outcome. Stacy Lewis needs to be reminded what the Leave it as is.

What was your take on the Solheim Cup and who stood out positively or negatively for each team?

Deeks: As I said, I thought it was great… partly because there was a welcome absence of obnoxious American jingoism.  I can’t say anyone really stood out for me, on either side, although Carlota Ciganda got most of the praise for playing well on home soil.  And much as I’m not a fan, Lexi Thompson played above expectations for the US.

Loughry: Who stood out this week at the Solheim Cup for me was Captain Stacy Lewis. I’ll state first that I’ve always been a fan of hers. But this week, she has both the positive and negative in mu books. She was/is right, the lack of respect the Solheim Cup got this week is a head scratcher. DP World event up against it the same time, why couldn’t they just adjust their dates for ONE week. But Stacey lost me when she started to defend Lexi at the press conference about her poor chip at a pivotal moment in her match. It was a valid question, that should be asked and answered. I understand as a Captain you want to protect your players, but that could have been handled better by everyone. Good for the Euro’s, the media was giving the US Team the nod as favourite, it was good for Team Europe to tie (retain) to win.

Schurman: The entire European Team came together and did what they had to do. Stacey Lewis came off like a crybaby

Rule: It was a shame the TV coverage was so awful because the golf was pretty impressive.  In terms of who stood out negatively, it’s tough to point anyone out because there’s so much pressure.  But Rose Zhang struggled a bit in her Solheim debut, so that stood out to me given how well she’s started her pro career.  But she’ll bounce back.  I was impressed by Kang and Khang on the US side and Leona and Hedwall on the Euro side.  For Hedwall to do what she did on the back nine on Sunday after having only played one of the first four sessions was incredible. Despite all of the logistical nightmares on site, the atmosphere looked electric and it’s always great to see a competition like this go down to the last couple of holes.

Quinn: Oh, the humanity! Who you want to have a beer with, Stacy Lewis or Suzann Pettersen? Ya thought so. This Cup was a glorious triumph of emotion and feelings over analytics. As Pettersen said: “You have to be out there with that person for five hours!” Pettersen went with her personality and human touch. Lewis went with her laptop.

Mumford: I was surprised that Celine Boutier didn’t earn a single point. She’s the leading player on the LPGA. And I thought Charley Hull might be a European sparkplug but that didn’t happen either. On the positive side, Lexi Thompson defied the critics, although she continues to be the most perplexing player on any tour. All in all, a very entertaining three days.

The Ryder Cup will be played this week in Rome. What’s the most intriguing storyline about the matches and who do you think will win the Cup on Sunday?

Deeks: I always favour the Euros, emotionally and physically, but the media seems to be favouring the US team. (All the more reason I favour the Euros.). I suppose all eyes will be on Brooks Koepka as the only LIV defector in the event.  If he does well, critics will be saying other LIV players should’ve been picked.  If not, no one will say anything.

Loughry: If Justin Thomas plays poorly, oh boy they’ll be answers needed by both Captain and him. This setup looks a little different from what I’ve seen in the past, the rough is NASTY. We usually see easy setups. This seems different. I’m personally cheering for the Euro’s, they could really use the win, but the American team is stronger on paper, and will be tough to beat. Worth the watch and discussion next week!

Schurman: I’d love to be a fly on the wall in the American locker room. A lot of things have been said and remain unsettled. Euros win.

Rule: As with most Ryder Cups, the Captain’s picks will be a big part of the story because they were somewhat controversial.  Will JT be able to raise the level of his game and will the young Euros – Aberg and Hojgaard in particular – be able to handle the pressure.  But I think the real pressure is on the top 3 Euro players.  Rahm, Rory and Hovland need to rack up the points if the team has any shot.  The Euros are so top heavy, but as in most years, the US is much deeper.  I have always backed the Euros and picked them to win, but I think the depth of the US team may just put them over the top this year. Hopefully the finish is as good as the Solheim. I’ll take the US in a close one.

Quinn: My grandmother used to say, “I couldn’t give a fig!” about whatever topic disinterested her. (Maybe she was just been being honest as no one ever saw a fig in her home.) Well, I couldn’t give one about how Thomas or Koepka or Speith will play. But will pay attention to how Rory and Rahm carry the heavy mantle, and especially how young Ludvig Aberg handles the pressure and the hype. Best case scenario, for those with larders stuffed with figs, would be Aberg and Viktor Hovland emerging as the Scandinavian version of Spain’s Ballesteros and Olazabal. That would call for gift-wrapping a few of those wrinkly Mediterranean things.

Mumford: I’d love to see a Koepka – Hatton singles match. Are there two more intense competitors? Apart from that, I expect Europe can handle the Yanks, but I’d like to see a bit more on the line than just Ryder Cup bragging rights. How about if the Euros lose, they all shave their heads and beards, including Tommy Fleetwood. And if the Americans lose, nobody shaves or gets a haircut until the Masters. Captains and caddies too.

Fairways Magazine

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