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Miracle in Medinah AND The Choke in Chicago

October 1st, 2012 · 4 Comments

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.

McIlroy’s debacle
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.

Mickelson’s Sportsmanship
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.

Tags: The Game · Tiger vs. Jack

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4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 BD // Oct 3, 2012 at 6:33 am

    Can’t you admit this was a great event? I don’t understand why you seem so disposed to disklike the Ryder Cup and President’s Cup. I realize you are all about the majors, but those only comprise four weekends a year. We need other events to fill out the rest of the calendar. The two international Cups offer boatloads of drama, great play, and tradition. And it’s not even about the money. I feel like you are missing out on the fun out of fear that the someone, somewhere is going to decide that the Ryder Cup is more important than the Masters.

  • 2 BD // Oct 3, 2012 at 6:54 am

    As for the Ryder Cup and the Hall of Fame, I think Colin Montgomerie is probably about the only golfer about whom a serious argument is made that he should be in the HoF because of his Ryder Cup record. Furyk probably is at best a borderling HoFer (16 wins, 1 major), although letting Fred Couples in might make it difficult to keep Furyk out. (Couples has a pretty mediocre RC record.)

    Even a bad RC record is still arguably a HoF credential because simply making the team is a big deal. Plus, you have the facts that you are playing against only the best players from across the pond and small sample sizes in your defense.

    Baseball analogy: Joe Morgan (among many other HoFers) has a pretty bad record in the postseason, but nobody would argue he should have been kept out of Cooperstown because of it. Curt Schilling is borderline HoF material based on his regular season record, but he has a lot of playoff success on his side, so he will probably get over the top on that basis.

    Bottom line: I’m not sure a BAD Ryder Cup record can really hurt your resume, but a good RC record can bolster it.

  • 3 Phil // Oct 3, 2012 at 7:10 am

    BD – I watched almost the entire RC, and I wouldn’t have done that to torture myself. I do enjoy it, but I am trying to put some much needed perspective on it in the face of the ongoing hype from the American golf media. Besides, plenty of others have written every other kind of story you can imagine – Euros were great, Phil and Keegan, Love’s decision, etc.
    I maintain that the RC can never be a big deal, unlike the majors, because so many of the great players (Player, Els, etc,) never get a chance to play in it. It is like a professor who lets half of his class earn extra credit for a paper while the other half can’t. In the quest for spots in the HOF, counting a player’s record in the RC is simply unfair to foreign players who are competing for a place in the HOF, but can never earn these bonus points. You must be born into the cup, which is a through-back to the class system. And, as you know, the PC does not make up for this. I like the majors because they offer the levelest playing field possible for golfers worldwide. I would argue against your baseball analogy providing a player got enough chances to play in the post season that their record in it should begin to mirror their record in the regular season. The reason: all players can qualify for the post season.

  • 4 BD // Oct 3, 2012 at 8:28 am

    “I would argue against your baseball analogy providing a player got enough chances to play in the post season that their record in it should begin to mirror their record in the regular season. The reason: all players can qualify for the post season.”

    That’s not really true. Ted Williams never had a postseason “career”; he played in ONE World Series (1946), his only post-season appearance. There have been a lot of players with long careers who have played in just a handful of postseason games because their TEAMS were’t that great. But that doesn’t and shouldn’t mean that players with a large record of postseason success (Schilling, Pettitte, Jeter, and Rivera come to mind) shouldn’t have those achievements considered as part of their legacy.

    The sport of golf is really comprised of a bunch of separate events each having its own history and stature. Yes, there’s a PGA Tour, but the (modern) majors each came about independent from one another and independent of the Tour. The RC also started out as its own “thing”. My point in recalling this is that golf has never afforded all players an equal opportunity to play in all events. The Europeans and Asians play in different events from one another, the amateurs play in different events from the professionals, the women play in different events from the men, and so on. That doesn’t mean the British Open wasn’t a “truly great” championship before the age of jet travel made it possible for Americans to play in it.

    Therefore, even if Asians and Africans can’t play in the RC, that doesn’t mean the RC isn’t a great event in its own right. It’s still a big deal.

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