Paul Azinger has made no secret about loving the home-state dynamics of Kentuckians Kenny Perry and J.B. Holmes playing in front of home fans for the Ryder Cup. And today, he echoed more strongly what he’s hinted at in the past — that a pairing of Holmes and Perry could open the Ryder Cup with a bang on Friday morning.
“Yeah, I’ve thought about what am I going to do with those two guys; should I put them together, should I keep them apart,” Azinger told reporters this morning at Valhalla. “You know, I’d like to put them off first match out to be honest with you and get this crowd rocking.”
More importantly, Azinger wants to get his team rocking. Unlike European captain Nick Faldo, who said he has come in with a preconcieved lineup, and who sent his players out onto the course in largely unsupervised threesomes this morning, Azinger has an assistant captain with his trio of foursomes practicing on the course, and acknowledged this morning that he is something of a “control freak.” He said he’s still mulling pairings and other decisions. And even though he has an even split of 6 rookies and 6 veterans, he’s not necessarily going to pair inexperienced players with experienced ones.
He did say this morning that he hopes to get all 12 players into action on the first day.
“I really haven’t decided yet what I’m going to do,” he said. “I wouldn’t have any trouble putting rookie and rookie together. Sometimes I think it’s more difficult to go out with on experienced player. I think sometimes the rookie feels like he has something to prove to that guy. I don’t want anybody to feel that way.
“But I don’t think anybody on the team, honestly, when you talk about rookies, Steve Stricker, Ben Curtis, I’m trying to think who else, I mean, Anthony Kim, these guys all know that they’re equally as good as the guys who have played Ryder Cup before. But I like the idea of putting rookies together, too. I like the team, I make the makeup of the team. It worked out that we have six rookies and six veteran players, but I think our rookies are all gamers.”