The 37th Ryder Cup

Posted by batman on Sep 19th, 2008
Sep 19

The Ryder Cup

The Ryder Cup


Valhalla Golf Club, Loiusville, Kentucky, U.S.A.

Team Captains:

Paul Azinger (U.S.A.)

Nick Faldo (Europe)

Day 1:

What a pleasure watching a premier golf event in the USA, without any of the American commentators or broadcasters. For once we could watch relevant golf, across the “leaderboard”, instead of just watching one man (Tiger) leaning against a tree, or walking down the fairway. Relevant, informed and notably unbiased commentary from the British broadcasters, without endless breaks for advertising with us left focussing on some pretty flowers for 30 seconds or more. After all, we just want to watch the golf…

Symbolic of the day was how Europe started – dominating practically everything, but then falling away and having to be satisfied with only one win the entire day, and a few halves. They just didn’t seem to have the “mojo”, while everything the Americans touched just turned to “sunk”.

Noticeable too was how gee’d up Mickleson was – he and Kim have really fed off each other, and are both really fired up. One can’t help feeling that the biggest ingredient in the USA’s revival, and spirit, and enjoyment of the event – has got to be Tiger Woods (being absent that is). I have never seen such team spirit and fire from the Americans in all of the team events I’ve ever watched. The Tiger/Mickleson pairing in one of the previous team events will live forever as one of the greatest on paper, but one of the most dismal in practice.

My players of the day were Poulter and Rose for the Europeans, and Leonard, Mahan, Kim and Mickelson for the Americans.

USA: 5.5

Europe 2.5

Day 2:

The rivalry between the British and American commentators is livening up. Still good-natured, but definitely with an edge emerging…

I can’t help but to side with the British commentators though – the constant “Boo, Boo” every time Boo Weekley appears is getting seriously annoying (it isn’t as though he’s actually done anything yet – if his name was Tiger Woods it might be different). Additionally the “get-in-the-hole” smacks more of “making noise” and less of any knowledgeable comments – especially on the tee shot of a par 5! Trying hard to be unbiased – I can’t help preferring the staid, stuffy British formality and tradition of golf, to the rowdy, (ironically English) football-hooligan-ish noise of the rabble that Ryder Cup events on American soil tends to serve up. I’m hoping we don’t have a repeat of Brookline, but wouldn’t be surprised…

The Europeans fought back to take the morning foursomes, with the afternoons fourballs having honours divided. Karlsson’s (second) final putt was pivotal – overall USA would have a 1 point lead if he made it, a two point lead if the match were halved, and a three point lead should he drop it. As it was Team Europe has to be satisfied halving the hole.

Young McDowell was really one of the stars of the European team, and Poulter has also stood up to lay claim to be the European Team Leader, despite the name of Harrington on the table. For the Americans, Mahan seems to have that spark, with Stricker being superbly solid and dependable. Mickleson has had his moments of brilliance, but also missed a short putt towards the end – one that had Azinger cringing…

My players of the day were McDowell, Poulter, Karlsson for the Europeans, and Furyk, Mahan, Stricker and Mickelson for the Americans.

USA: 9

Europe: 7

Day 3:

America go into this final day with a two point advantage, and needing 5.5 points to take back the cup. It’ll should be intriguing stuff.

How about the opening approach shot from Kim, then matched by Garcia? The level of play this week has been incredible!

The spirit between the two teams has been impeccable, barring of course forthe Kim/Garcia game. I can’t say I much like Kim’s aggressive, in-your-face approach – his double-checking the rules official and his not conceding an easy putt to Garcia bordered on unsportsmanlike. His (and Boo’s) trying to gee up the crowds is more like English football, or American baseball – but it’s not golf. What’s next – personal cheerleaders? Kim’s crowds cheering when Garcia missed putts, or put the ball in the water is also not what golf’s about. One should cheer and applaud excellent play – but never a players misfortunes – regardless of what it means in the bigger picture!

With 8 points still out there, the USA leads by a marginal 10.5 to 9.5 – but I suspect that this is as close as the Europeans are going to get. They simply aren’t doing enough, they need someone like Harrington or Jiminez to swing their matches, with the others maintaining station. Well played Kenny Perry – the local from Kentucky has enjoyed a gem. Golf can be such a cruel game – after Mahan’s unbelievable putt on the 17th to take 1 stroke lead, he gets his feet wet on the 18th to hand the advantage right back to Casey – matched halved.

Ok, America have won the Cup back – the underdogs have now won the last four times out. I’m not sure that Faldo got his playing order right today – to have lost the Cup without Harrington, Westwood or Poulter having a chance to contribute suggests that with the benefit of hindsight, he may have done things differently. Overall I think Paul Azinger was the better captain – more involved, emotional and supportive, while Nick Faldo seemed more dour, detached and distant.

Once again golf was played, by both sides, at a level much higher than even in the majors – and nothing comes close the the intensity and pressure of these matches. And for me, the nicest thing of all, is that this Ryder Cup is not played for prize money – it is played for things like honour, and glory, and for your country – and thats all!

Well played America – this time it was played in excellent spirit, and it was a huge success!

USA: 16.5

Europe: 11.5

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