After Team USA got the crowd fired up on Sunday morning at the 39th Ryder Cup, with cheers being led by Keegan Bradley in the hour before the first Tee Time, they went out on the golf course, and laid a giant egg at Medinah Country Club. You could almost see Paul Revere riding through the country side yelling “The British are coming”, and come they did. Team Europe opened a can of Whoop Ass that will be talked about for the next decade.
I know we were soundly beaten on Sunday, but I propose that the trouble started late Saturday afternoon on the 17th tee. When Luke Donald dropped his tee shot on the difficult 17th green inside of Tiger’s shot, that was the beginning of the end. Donald and Garcia would finish the afternoon with a 1 up victory over Tiger and his partner Steve Stricker. With Ian Poulter playing one hole behind the Woods/Stricker pairing, and making every pressure putt known to the Golf Gods, beating the Dufner/Zach Johnson team 1 up, the European charge had begun.
Ian Poulter was by far the emotional leader on the European team, but the rock was the 35 year old from Hemel Hempstead England. Luke Donald who spent most of the last two seasons as Number 1 in the World Golf rankings, and lives in the Chicago area, played solid steady golf all weekend.
I think Team Europe Captain Jose Maria Olazabal knew when he sent Donald out in the first Singles match against Bubba Watson, who had been one of the emotional leaders for Team USA the first two days. As Bubba started off sluggish, Donald grabbed a 1 up lead on the first hole. The only pairing in the first five matches that we were close on, was that of Phil Mickelson against Justin Rose. Even that was not to be. The first five pairings took the partisan crowd out of the match, and demoralized Team USA.
Team USA finally got some good news when Dustin Johnson beat up on rookie Nicolas Colsaerts, who lost the putter magic from Friday, and Zach Johnson beating 2010 Ryder Cup inspiration, Graeme McDowell 2 and 1. The only other victory Team USA had was Jason Dufner, who beat Peter Hanson 2 up. Tiger Woods finally got a split in the last group of the day with Francesco Molinari. That split came after Martin Kaymer had already made a 4 foot putt on 18 to send the Cup back to Europe. Tiger’s effort was too little too late.
Steve Stricker came to 18 needing to beat Kaymer to halve the match, but hit his approach shot long. He then hit a terrible putt that looked like one of my wounded ducks, and never had a chance. If Team USA had gotten anything from Woods and Stricker, they would have brought the Cup home.
The other Captains pick that was a disaster, was Jim Furyk. Two valuable picks were made for veteran leadership that just wasn’t playing well. The younger golfers brought their emotions to the tournament, all they need was a couple of victories from the veterans. Furyk had made 1 point on Saturday morning, playing with Tour Champion Brandt Snedeker. He performed at the Ryder Cup as he had all year, couldn’t make anything happen when he needed a win. I’m still scratching my head over this pick.
Even though Team USA lost, I think the 2012 Ryder Cup was some the most exciting, and compelling golf I had seen all year. I’m not sure why the PGA doesn’t have more team competition during the regular season. It was fun to watch. On a Sunday, when the NFL matchup’s were not so great, The Ryder Cup was the show on television.
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