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AUTHOR : CHARLIE EPPS

author-charlie eppsKnown as "The Golf Doctor," Charlie Epps has been one of Houston's most respected PGA professionals for 30 years. He is the Director of Golf at Redstone Golf Club, home of the PGA Tour's Shell Houston Open.

Epps teaches two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and second-year Tour player Bobby Gates. Listen to Epps 9-10 a.m. Saturday mornings on Yahoo! Sports Radio on 1560 AM in Houston, channel 127 pm Sirius satellite and 242 XM.

He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Captain, my (Ryder Cup) Captain

Written by Charlie Epps on 01 September 2010.

The Ryder Cup matches always are one of my favorite events in golf. There's nothing quite like teeing it up for your country, where patriotic pride trumps purse size, FedEx Cup points and everything else.

This year, Corey Pavin joins a long list of quality captains for the U.S. team. I made no secret about my affinity for Paul Azinger as captain in 2008. I loved Zinger's aggressive attitude and never-back-down mentality. As I wrote last year, anyone who can beat cancer and return to the PGA Tour is a winner in my book.

There have been many great U.S. captains, and Pavin should be a great leader as well. He's gritty, smart and not afraid to make an unpopular decision if he thinks it will benefit the team.

Years ago, you had to win a PGA Championship in order to become captain. The reigning PGA Champion also always used to a part of the team. That's not the case anymore; John Daly won the PGA in 1991 and didn't make the next Ryder Cup team.

So I'm not sure what the current job description is to be U.S. captain. It seems things have changed. I have a list of players who were passed over as captain, and I'm not sure why. But I do know they all would have made great U.S. captains.

Why, for example, was Pavin elected before Larry Nelson?

Nelson won two PGAs (1981, '87) and the 1983 U.S. Open. He won seven other PGA Tour events and went 9-3-1 in three Ryder Cup matches (1979, '81, '87). He was 2-0-1 in all-time singles play. Although he was soft-spoken and unassuming, he was a great competitor and would have made a fine captain.

Hubert Green won a U.S. Open in 1977, the PGA in '85 and 17 other PGA Tour events. Sometimes it seems like being elected captain of the U.S. team was the PGA's way of rewarding a player for a fine career. So didn't he earn the right to be a captain?

Another one passed over was Fuzzy Zoeller, winner of the 1979 Masters and 1984 U.S. Open. He would have been a great captain. He would have let the players play and have the spotlight. Sometimes we saw certain captains who felt the need to make the Ryder Cup a little more about them than the players or even the golf. Fuzzy definitely wouldn't have been that way.

John Mahaffey beat Tom Watson and Jerry Pate in a playoff to win the 1978 PGA Championship. Mahaffey lost in a playoff at the 1975 U.S. Open and won the 1986 Tournament Players Championship. He's another great golfer who was overlooked as a potential captain. He had a great career and might have been the best player to come out of the University of Houston.

No. 1 American player who was passed over by the PGA as a Ryder Cup captain, however, has to be Johnny Miller. He won two majors (1963 U.S. Open, 1976 British Open) and a total 25 PGA Tour events. He's won more majors than Tom Kite, so why would Kite be chosen as a captain over Miller? Is it because Miller is an honest TV broadcaster and criticizes players?

Miller showed he has never been afraid to win. He will speak his mind and is not afraid of taking criticism. All of players might not like him as a friend, but I guarantee you that they will play their hearts out for him. Miller also is a great candidate because he is as up to date on the players in the game as anyone. He spends every week during the long golf season analyzing the games of the best players in the world. It would not be a stretch to think he could assemble the best U.S. team possible.

The bottom line is the Ryder Cup is all about the players. The captains just have to organize the social events during the week and approve the players' uniforms. Still, there is a lot of importance placed on being the U.S. captain, and I think all of the guys listed above were unfairly passed over.

As for this year's Ryder Cup, on paper, our team probably will be the biggest underdog in the history of the Ryder Cup. Somehow I believe we still will find a way to sneak out a victory.

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