October 5, 2012
The Good and The Bad from Ryder Cup
By JON McCARTHY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - The Ryder Cup is still the talk of the golf world.
No easy feat considering the prestigious Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open has kicked off in historic Las Vegas. Sports fans, though, are having a hard time moving on from The Miracle/Meltdown at Medinah. Hereís a few things we liked and didnít like about the 39th Ryder Cup:
Good is an understatement to describe this yearís Ryder Cup. In fact, I received several texts and tweets from excited sports fans who were glued to the TV. Attracting a large Sunday audience during football season is no easy feat but this yearís Ryder Cup managed to do it. One text from a longtime friend and sports nut said: ďNot much is better than NFL. This is.Ē
There was plenty to get excited about.
Ian Poulterís one-for-the-ages performance changed the worldís perception of the 36-year-old Englishmen. In the past, Poulter displayed a level of smugness that didnít seem warranted. He would strut around the course in gaudy outfits and had a driver headcover modelled in his likeness.
In 2008, he famously said that when he reached his potential, he would be the only one that could challenge Tiger Woods. At the time, he had zero PGA Tour wins, a lone top-ten finish in a major and just one Ryder Cup point to his resume.
Not to mention, he had a different white Ferrari for every day of the week. To borrow a harsh phrase from his English countrymen, he seemed like a bit of a twat.
A pretty good player playing the role of a great player.
Turns out, he is a great player.
In fact, for one week every two years he is the best player in the world. His five consecutive birdies to end the afternoon session on Saturday and win 1-up was one of the greatest clutch performances in golf history.
Poulterís career Ryder Cup record sits at 12-3.
Another plus for the Ryder Cup was the class that Phil Mickelson showed Sunday afternoon. Seconds after watching his potential match-winning chip slide past the hole, Mickelson smiled, applauded and gave Justin Rose a thumbs-up after the Englishmen gutted America by rolling in a 40-foot birdie putt to square their match.
It was that moment, more than any other on Sunday, that turned the tables on Team USA. And in that moment, the man who has played more Ryder Cup matches than any American in history gave the world a lesson in sportsmanship and provided what will turn out to be the lasting image from the 2012 Ryder Cup.
Drunk fans and buffoons argue that what Mickelson did was wrong, that staring down Rose or storming to the next tee could have made the difference.
They argue that you donít see athletes in other sports acting as gracious as Phil.
Theyíre right, of course. And, thatís exactly the point.
That brings us to the end of the Ryder Cup and perhaps the best part of the entire week: Team Europeís drunk press conference.
We had Sergio Garcia passing 10 drinks down the podium and spilling all over himself while answering a question.
We had a barely upright Lee Westwood making siren noises while Rory McIlroy was telling the story about his police escort to the golf course.
We also canít forget Team Europeís dancing exhibition in front of their fans outside the clubhouse. Something tells me Team USA would have looked considerably more awkward in the same situation.
Imagine watching Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker try to dance.
Then again, it canít be much scarier than watching them try to golf last week.
On that sour note, letís look at the bad from last weekís Ryder Cup.
Stricker and Furyk were left wearing the goat horns after going a combined 1-6 during the week.
Picking Furyk was a clear mistake for Davis Love III and his brutal performances under pressure throughout 2012 should have made Captain Love steer clear of Furyk. His bogey-bogey finish on Sunday wasnít a surprise to anyone who watched him break down at the finish line during the U.S. Open and the Bridgestone this season.
Strickerís selection as a Captainís Pick canít really be argued. At the time of the selections he was the 10th-ranked player in the world and a favourite partner of Tiger Woods.
In the end, Furykís and Strickerís performances need to be studied by future captains who are considering putting 40-somethings on the team.
Golf is by no means a young-manís game and plenty of players play top-notch golf into their 40s, but consistency and the ability to perform under pressure often fade as golferís age. The fact that neither player was able to qualify through the point system should have been a red flag.
Both Furyk and Stricker can still put ten good weeks together any given season, but there is no next week at the Ryder Cup and up-and-coming players who have yet to have their nerves frayed by the game of golf often make powerful additions to any team.
On that topic, the next bad moment from the Ryder Cup was Love not marching Keegan Bradley back out for the afternoon session on Saturday.
We have all heard Mickelson he didnít want to play the back-to-back matches.
Did Mickelson need the rest? Probably.
Did Bradley need the rest? Hell, no!
After winning two matches with Mickelson the day before, Bradley was asked if he had any energy left.
ďOh, baby, I wish I could go 36 more,Ē Bradley answered.
Does that sound like a guy who would need a rest?
Love should have said he was sending Bradley out for the second session on Saturday with or without Mickelson and left it up to Phil to decide if he wanted to join him.
My bet is Phil would have been on the first tee with Bradley.
The last bad thing about the Ryder Cup was the course setup.
Where was the rough? I know Love wanted it to set up for birdies ó but they went overboard.
Turning a major championship venue into a resort course is just wrong.
The best players in the world should have a little rough around the greens.