After losing the Ryder Cup for the sixth time in the past seven events, the Americans need try something different next time. Kenny Perry, a member of the U.S. team that won in 2008, is probably too far past his prime to help as a player in 2016. But he still might be part of the solution.
Perry, 54, says he thought winning a PGA Tour major title was a requirement to be a Ryder Cup captain. Fortunately for him, that isn't the case.
"They may think outside the box and pick a player who doesn't have a major title -- maybe someone who's more into the team aspect," Perry says. "That's all I've heard. I haven't talked to anybody. I only heard it once on the Golf Channel. I'd love the opportunity if my name got thrown into the mix. It'd be a great honor."
The possibility of Perry being captain is being taken seriously enough that William Hill, a bookmaker in the United Kingdom, listed at 8/1 odds for him get the job. Only Steve Stricker and David Toms were ahead of him on Hill's board.
A built-in benefit for the next U.S. captain is that the 2014 team set a very low bar. The 16.5-11.5 loss to the Europeans was its worst since 2006, as captain Tom Watson publicly feuded with players, notably Phil Mickelson.
"There were some words being spoken in the news conference after," Perry says. "There must have been something going wrong between coach and players that none of us knew about. Obviously the team was in disarray there."
If Perry gets the job, he may borrow from the playbook of 2008 captain Paul Azinger, who also won twice as a player in four Ryder Cup appearances. Azinger adopted a "pod system" in which players were grouped in three groups of four, keeping consistency. Perry says he meshed well with Jim Furyk, and Azinger kept them together for all three doubles matches they played,
"Paul Azinger did a fantastic job with our team and put us in a successful situation," Perry says. "He got our team to come together as a unit. We played as one unit even though we were 12. We believed in each other and leaned on each other. ... Paul Azinger had a great system of pairing us with the right people based on personality."
Perry owns 14 PGA Tour wins and two runner-up finishes in majors, both coming in playoffs. At the 1996 PGA Champions, played at Valhall in Louisville, Perry, a Kentucky native, lost on the first sudden death playoff hole to Mark Brooks. At the 2009 Masters, Perry bogeyed the final two holes to fall into a three-way time with Angel Cabrera and Chad Campbell. Cabrera edged Perry on the second playoff hole.
For Perry, his two Ryder Cup appearances–and one win–and four Presidents Cup showings (three wins, one tie) are cherished. The victories are among his highest accomplishments.
"Your whole life you play individually," he says. "You play for yourself. That's it. When I played in my amateur, I never played on a World Cup team. All of a sudden, you've got 11 men beside you and the captain and vice-captains. You're wearing red, white and blue."
Perry acknowledges the future presence of golf in the Olympics (starting in 2016) and says he wishes he could play with a chuckle. Age will likely derail Perry's chances of going to Rio. He will not soon forget his Ryder Cup moments, especially from 2008.
"I thought Phil Mickelson was a great teammate," he says. "We had Anthony Kim. He and Mickelson were great teammates that week. Phil took Anthony under his wing and showed us the ropes and Anthony played tremendous."
Perhaps the lasting mark from Perry's week did not even come from the course. The crowning tale came off the tongue of a player who has never finished higher than ninth at a major.
"Boo Weekley was hilarious," Perry says. "He kept the team loose all week. He talked about growing up in Milton, Florida, and boxing an orangutan when he was in high school. It was just amazing the story you here from these players."
Perry promises to harness the positive attributes he has encompassed from team golf experiences to the Ryder Cup if selected as the 2016 captain. Perry insists words like "fun," "friendship" and "teamwork" are not just buzz words.
To break the three-year losing streak, the U.S. will need to make some adjustments. The nation cannot simply rely on talent alone, as it did for most of the 20th century.
"Europeans are tough,," Perry says. "They're very highly ranked in the world. America is not dominant in golf anymore. You've got Asians, notably Koreans. Australians are great. South America's got great players. It's not as easy for us to dominate in team competition as it was in the past."
In the meantime, Perry still has a golf game to focus on. Over the age of 50, Perry balances competition on the PGA and Champions Tour. He is eligible for all PGA Tour events next year with the exception of the majors and World Golf Championships. A victory on the PGA Tour can get Perry back on the board for a major.
That is not to say Perry is not enjoying his time on the senior circuit. In four seasons, Perry has three Senior major championships and seven total Champions Tour wins.
"The Champions Tour's more like a social tour. These are the men I always tried to beat. Hale Irwin, Tom Kite, Curtis Strange, Craig Sadler, Fred Couples, Bernhard Langer. Now, we get out here and we talk about what we used to do."
Perry notes that for much of his career, he had a family of three kids to raise. All three of his children, Lesslye, Justin and Lindsey were born in the mid-to-late 1980s.
"I was trying to be a father, as well as a great golfer," Perry says.
With all due respect to Perry's children, his golf game skyrocketed as they grew up. Perry won 11 of his 14 PGA tour wins after 2000. He won five of those titles in 2008 and 2009.
"My kids are all in a good place in life," he says. "They're doing great and I'm refocused on golf."
For the past decade, Perry has crushed the sport, now with his foot on the gas on the Champions Tour. Perry is currently seed fourth in the Charles Schwab Cup standings, a competition he won in 2013. Perry was also the Champions Tour Player of the Year in 2013, winning the Jack Nicklaus Trophy.
"I'd like to try to get up there. Second place would be great if I can play strong these last few weeks," Perry says, as he feels he is on the outside looking in.
Along with the Champions Tour's season coming to a close, time is also running out in the Golf VIP Sweepstakes. Through Oct. 24, golfers can apply on www.TempurPedicGolf.com for the opportunity to win a vacation to the PGA Tour's OHL Classic in Mayakoba in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, a Tempur-Pedic mattress and up to $15,000 in prize money. The winner also gets to play in the tournamen's Wednesday Pro-Am and enjoy a meet-and-greet with Kenny Perry and the 2014 tournament champion.
Perry has visited the Tempur-Pedic headquarters in Lexington.
"It's always nice to work with a company from Kentucky," he says.
The OHL Classic at Mayakoba is Nov. 13-16, two weeks after the final event of the Champions Tour season, the Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.