Note: The Ryder Cup got under way this morning in Louisville. DJ Gallo was there to witness team captain Paul Azinger address his players in the locker room before play began. Here is what transpired.
Paul Azinger: All right, everybody, let's bring it in.
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
How inspiring can Mr. Azinger be? We'll see soon enough.
Azinger: Because I'm the captain of this team. The coach, if you will. And it's time for us to go over our game plan.
Kenny Perry: Game plan? This is golf.
Azinger: I realize this is golf, Kenny. I'm not stupid. But I was put in charge of this team, and from everything I have read and heard in the media in recent days, my strategy and leadership is crucial to our chances of winning.
Mickelson: OK, I'll listen. But I'm going to go out and play my game no matter what you --
Azinger: Phil! Enough! Do you want to run some laps? Huh? Well, do you?
Mickelson: No. Not that you have the power to make me run laps, but --
Azinger: I don't have the power?! Are you insane? I have seen movies about team sports, and the coaches in movies have plenty of power. They make their players run laps at the drop of a hat. And I'm the coach of this team, so I can make you run laps if I want to.
Mickelson: What would I be running laps around exactly?
Azinger: I don't know. The course, I guess.
Mickelson: The course?! One lap around would be, like, four miles. You want me to run eight-plus miles? And then play golf?
Azinger: OK, OK. Not the course. How about around the perimeter of the 12th hole -- it's a par-4.
Mickelson: How about around the perimeter of the 12th green?
Mickelson: I meant hypothetically. There's no way I'm actually running laps or doing anything you say.
Azinger: Just shut up! Shut up! I'm the coach here! You will respect my authority as coach! Now, where were we? Right our game plan. Now the No. 1 thing we need to do is --
Justin Leonard: So you are our coach?
Azinger: Yes. I am your coach. "Captain" is the exact title. But basically I am your coach.
Leonard: I had a coach when I played in high school and college.
Azinger: Right. So you understand the importance of my job.
Leonard: I do. Coaches would drive us to our matches and give us bottles of water and crackers at the turn. Then, when the match was over, they would drive us back to the school, and sometimes on the way home we would stop at McDonald's. Will you be driving me out to the first tee?
Azinger: No. No. Look, everyone keeps telling me how important I am to our chances at success. I need you to understand my importance. You don't want me to be outcoached by Nick Faldo, do you?
Leonard: I bet those European players eat really good sandwiches at the turn with fresh vegetables and cheese and fresh-baked baguettes, not the crappy packaged crackers that we get. You should give us some good sandwiches, too.
Boo Weekley: I could go for some pizza.
Azinger: Enough with the food. Now listen, I drew up some plays. [Pulls out dry erase board and black marker.] Now here's what we want to do on the par-4s, OK? We want to hit this gap here, right?
Jim Furyk: You mean the space between the rough?
Azinger: Yes. That's where you want to hit your drives.
Furyk: The fairway?
Azinger: Yes. The fairway.
Furyk: Gee, thanks for the tip.
Azinger: Then, you want to hit your next shot onto the green [draws black line to green] --
Furyk: Go on.
Azinger: And then you want to putt into the hole. But here's the kicker, OK? Just putt it once to get it in the hole.
Hunter Mahan: This is good stuff.
Azinger: Now, on the par-5s we'll have a similar game plan. Hit your drive in the fairway [draws line to fairway], then hit it on the green [draws line to green], then make it in the hole in one to two putts, one being preferable.
Steve Stricker: You are a coaching genius.
Azinger: With the par-3s, we're going to change things up a bit, so pay attention. No hitting the fairway on this play. We're going to hit onto the green on the first shot, OK? Remember that: On the par-3s, the play is to hit it on the green immediately. Then putt it in the hole in one to two putts -- again, one being preferable. Now does anyone want to run through the plays?
Ben Curtis: No, I think we've got it.
Azinger: Are you sure? I know I'm springing this playbook on you all of a sudden. I don't want you to get confused.
Chad Campbell: No, we're good.
Mahan: Wait, what's the play for the par-4s again?
Azinger: On the par-4s we want to --
Mahan: I was kidding, you idiot.
AP Photo/Ed Reinke
Azinger needs to work some magic if he, Phil Mickelson and co. are going to hold this trophy for real.
Mickelson: Sure. Hit us with it.
Azinger: On the par-3s --
Azinger: Just hit it right in on the first shot! Is that good or what? I'm not going to write it in the playbook, because I don't want Faldo and the Europeans getting their hands on it.
Perry: Good point.
Azinger: OK, so we've got our plays down. Now, a few other things. Clubs. This course is wide-open once you get out to about 300 yards. So just swing away. Don't worry about accuracy. That's why we'll all be using this 360cc King Cobra driver.
Mickelson: Like hell we will. We have endorsement contracts with our club makers. If I'm seen with that club, my contract is voided and I'm out millions of dollars.
Azinger: But this is for your country. Do it for your country.
Azinger: Do you want to run more laps?
Mickelson: Hypothetically, or for real?
Azinger: For real.
Mickelson: No. I'm not running laps.
Azinger: Hypothetically, then.
Mickelson: Still no. Sorry.
Azinger: All right, forget the club thing. Let's talk about your swings. As your coach, I have been watching tape of your swings, and I have noticed some changes that each and every one of you can make to improve. Stewart? Let's start with you.
Stewart Cink: Don't say another word. Not a tip, not a word, not a peep. If you say one thing that gets inside my head and in any way affects the swing I have worked to build for 20 years with my swing coach, I will choke you out. Do you hear me? Choke you out.
Azinger: OK, OK. I was just going to say that on your backswing --
-- aaaaaack. Hel-p m-e. Some-one. Helllll-p.
[Cink is pulled away by the other players.]
Jeez. Understood. No swing tips. No club changes. I got it. I have to tell you, despite everything I've read and heard about how important I am as team captain, you guys sure are making me feel pretty worthless.
Mickelson: It's nothing personal, Paul. It's just that this is golf. It's an individual sport. And we are all veteran players who have won countless tournaments and millions and millions of dollars. So you are worthless.
Azinger: Well, isn't there something I can do?
Mickelson: How about you set the order in which you want us to play? Would that make you feel important?
Azinger: It sure would!
DJ Gallo is the founder and sole writer of the sports satire site SportsPickle.com. He also is a regular contributor to ESPN The Magazine and has written for The Onion and Cracked. His first book, "SportsPickle Presents: The View from the Upper Deck," is on sale now.