US Ryder Cup solution? Go with new guys, Scott Hoch says

Scott Hoch won’t be on the PGA of America’s Ryder Cup task force, but the former Ryder Cup participant has his own ideas on how to end the U.S.’s losing ways.

“I would go with the younger players and play the heck out of them,” Hoch said. “They haven’t learned how to lose and they haven’t gotten used to losing.

“Get rid of all the old guard, and put new guys in there who really want it and aren’t used to losing yet and are good players.”

Hoch’s comments were made Sunday after his final round at the SAS Championship in Cary.

The PGA of America announced Tuesday that it would form an 11-man task force, which includes Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, to address the issues that have led to the U.S. losing six of the past seven Ryder Cup competitions.

Hoch, a Raleigh native and Wake Forest University alumnus, said he was “sick” watching the 2012 Ryder Cup, when the U.S. could not hold a four-point lead entering Sunday singles matches at Medinah Country Club outside Chicago.

“Everybody was playing not to lose,” Hoch said. “They’re so used to losing. ... You’ve kind of got to look at the records and even though some of your best players are there, you have to go with who’s playing well and younger guys and stuff like that.

“I think we found out something this year about our young players. We’ve got some, and we’ve got some more coming up.”

The U.S. had newcomers such as Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed on the Ryder Cup team in Scotland last month. Rickie Fowler was playing in his second Ryder Cup. He has not won a match.

The European team, which Hoch said was the strongest he has seen, blitzed the U.S. 161/2 to 111/2. American captain Tom Watson was criticized after the matches by Mickelson for his handling of the team and his brusque manner in dealing with the players, but Hoch said he would have been more blunt had he been the captain.

“Honestly, I can’t tell you what I’d tell the guys,” Hoch said. “It would be hard love for some of the people on the team.”

The U.S. won the 2008 Ryder Cup at Valhalla in Louisville, Ky., with Paul Azinger as captain. Mickelson praised the Azinger approach, which involved the use of four-man “pods,” but Hoch wasn’t so sure it was Azinger’s system that was the difference. Azinger was not named to the task force

“The guys played good,” Hoch said.

Hoch said Davis Love III, the U.S. captain in 2012, who was named to the task force, would have been held in the same high regard had the U.S. been able to finish it off at Medinah.

“They were putting a whoppin’ on them,” Hoch said. “If they hadn’t have folded ... Davis can’t hit the shots for them.”

Hoch wasn’t sure who a suitable captain would be for the 2016 matches at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn.

“They’ve already screwed up. Larry Nelson should have been (captain) years ago,” Hoch said, noting the former U.S. Open and PGA champion.

Azinger again?

“ ’Zinger won’t do it. He’s living off what he’s done,” Hoch said.

The task force will consider changes to the selection process, and Hoch favors saving the final captain’s pick until after the FedEx Cup playoffs. Billy Horschel made a hot run to win the FedEx Cup championship this year, but the U.S. team already had been chosen.

“I’m sure they would have picked Horschel if it had come a little later,” Hoch said.

Hoch, 58, played on U.S. Ryder Cup teams in 1997 and 2002, posting a 2-0-1 record in ’97 but going 0-3-1 in ’02. He won 11 times on the PGA Tour and has three Champions Tour victories.

Having recovered from wrist and hand injuries, Hoch is playing more Champions Tour tournaments. And he’ll always speak his mind.