There were two teams competing for the 2012 Ryder Cup, and two very distinct stories, so this series of observations deserves a two sided headline
Kaymer makes putt for a winning tie!
When Martin Kaymer made a six footer on the 18th to beat Steve Sticker, he locked up a tie, and with it, a victory! Seriously folks, isn’t it a bit ridiculous that a big time sporting event can be settled once a tie has been secured?
Woods and Molinari
In this, the strangest of sporting events, the European team locked up a tie when Kaymer made his putt on 18. And the moment it dropped, the volume of the Euros fans would have made you think that the event was over even though the score was 14-13 Europe, and Woods and Francisco Molinari waited in the fairway to hit their second shots with Woods nursing a 1-up lead. If Woods had not yanked his four footer for a par moments later (and he WAS grinding on it in true Woods’ style), the final score would have been 14-14. Should that matter, considering that the Europe had retained the cup? I think so, though evidently many don’t.
Ryder Cup and History
Golf’s amateur historians (which include many in the media) believe that a player’s Ryder Cup successes should go on their resume, and that they should bolster their case for the Hall of Fame (and for Best Ever). If so, then a player’s failures should detract from the chances for the HOF as well, and Jim Furyk (42), whose lifetime record in the Ryder Cup dropped to 9-17-4 with his 1-2 performance this week, probably lost his chance for the HOF.
Tiger Woods in the Ryder Cup
A few days ago I wrote that Tiger Woods cost the US one, maybe two previous Ryder Cups. Now you can make that two, maybe three. Woods went 0-3 in team play and only managed a tie in his singles match with Francisco Molinari to run his career record to 13-17-3. When you compare this to Jack Nicklaus’ record of 17-8-3 (even if it was in the pre Europe era), if Ryder Cup records matter, then Woods now has a big strike against him in his competition with Nicklaus for Best Ever.
Ian Poulter was the MVP
Ian Poulter is clearly the MVP. He won all three of his teams matches including the four ball on Saturday when he birdied the last five holes to secure a 1-up win which closed the gap to 6-10, and which set the stage for a come from behind win, no matter how unlikely it seemed. Playing from the third spot on Sunday, Poulter won the last two holes to beat Webb Simpson two up, earning a momentum creating point for his team.
Jack Nicklaus, Rory McIlroy’s mentor, once barely made it to the first tee in time for a match at the US Amateur. Joe Dey dressed him down, and the lesson was learned as Nicklaus was never late for his tee time in his career. McIlroy needed a police escort to make it to the tee on time for his match. Hopefully he has learned as well.
I never thought excessive good sportsmanship was possible until I saw Mickelson give Justin Rose a huge smile and a thumbs up after Rose rolled in a 50 footer to erase Phil’s 1-up lead on the 17th. Perhaps Mickelson thought Rose was Keegan Bradley, or that the US would still win, so he could afford to be so generous with his praise. After Rose beat him with a 15 foot birdie putt on 18 and he felt the sting of his loss, Mickelson’s smile was not nearly so broad.
The Silver Lining
If there is any silver lining to the 2012 Ryder Cup, it is that no Ryder Cup has, as yet, been won by a team comprised of players who anchored their putter. The US team had relied on the anchored long putter contingent to build a 10-6 lead – then the US lost when the threesome of Kuchar, Simpson, and Bradley failed to win a point on Sunday. I wrote that I would be rooting for them to lose on Sunday because I thought that the US team could afford these losses. Was I ever wrong.