We're barely 24 hours removed from the Europeans' win in the 2010 Ryder Cup, and in this instant-gratification culture in which we live, you know what that means: time to start looking to 2012!
As we've seen countless times, the captain's personality can dictate how well, or how poorly, a team plays. And although the Cup shifts back to the United States -- specifically Medinah -- for 2012, this year's loss means everyone's going to be taking a very close look at the candidates who could captain the U.S. squad the next time around.
The clubhouse leader is Davis Love III, a vice-captain this year. He's played in six Ryders, posting a record of 9-12-5 over that span. He's got the analytical mind to craft a well-rounded team, but does he have the motivational spark to rally his troops? Other possibilities include Mark Calcavecchia or Kenny Perry. One high-profile possibility is Fred Couples, but his continuing dedication to the Presidents Cup -- he captained the U.S. to victory last year, and will once again lead America in 2011 -- almost surely takes him out of consideration.
On the European side, it's almost certainly going to be Jose Maria Olazabal, as long as his health holds out. Olazabal suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, which could complicate his ability to watch the various candidates for inclusion on the team.
But he's one hell of a Ryder Cup player. He won 18 of his 31 matches, bettering current captain Colin Montgomerie by a single percentage point (66 to 65). He's played on a winning team three times.
"He has a lot of experience — as much as I have — and I am sure he will do as good, if not a better, job than I did," Montgomerie told the AP. "That's it for me with the Ryder Cup, unless I try to qualify as a player."
Darren Clarke, another of Monty's vice captains, has taken himself out of the running for the captaincy in 2012, also preferring to try to qualify as a player. (Optimistic fellows, those Europeans.)
We're a few months away from any announcement, but not many; Corey Pavin was named captain in December 2008, and Montgomerie in January 2009. Any predictions before then?