I’m sure that everyone is familiar with the old saying ‘Be careful what you wish for, you might get it.’ Man, oh man, did I get bit big time on Sunday
I had just finished playing golf on Sunday and as I was driving home, I started to think that it would be nice for the Euros to put some early points on the scoreboard or else the 39th Ryder Cup would have all the suspense of the end of a typical New England Patriot vs. Buffalo Bills football game.
Well, we all know what happened – a monumental collapse by the US team versus the European team.
So, what went wrong? First, credit must go to the Euros who outplayed the their US counterparts for the most part on Sunday. Although, in hindsight, this was not totally unexpected. I believe it was sometime on Saturday when golf commentator Johnny Miller said something to the effect that while the US would like to win the Ryder Cup, the Euros cannot even fathom the thought of loosing the trophy.
Secondarily to the US loss was some collosal missteps by US captain Davis Love III. His first mistake was selecting Jim Furyk as a captain’s pick. While I love Furyk and all that he has done in golf and the way that he conducts himself on the course, it was obvious from watching his game this year that his better days have passed him by. Yes, he played well in spurts (especially the US Open), but, it was his collapses down the stretch in many events that foreshadowed his play at the Ryder Cup. Jim was a jumble of nerves and it showed itself in the most inopportune times.
Love’s second blunder was putting too much faith in Steve Stricker, another aging player who also succumbed to a case of nervous meltdown. Steve is another player who has done nothing but good things on the course and whose demeanor I have often (but not always successfully) tried to emulate in my own game. Yet, in all of his matches (both with Tiger and alone), he was an almost total non-factor.
Love should have sat Stricker in the Saturday afternoon four-ball match and teamed Tiger with one of the ‘young guns’. As it was Tiger played very well and got almost no help from Stricker. The point or half-point they may have won would have been an almost certain demoralization of the Euros.
As the Sunday matches wound down, it became obvious that the Cup’s outcome would rest on the shoulders of the four veterans of the team – Mickelson, Furyk, Stricker and Woods.
Mickelson, Furyk and Stricker all lost both the 17th & 18th holes to the Euros when even one draw may have changed the outcome of the Cup.
So, we now look forward to 2014 when the Cup will be contested in Europe. While it is very unlikely that the US will ever be able to match the emotion of the Euros, it will become increasingly more important for whoever is the US captain to make sure that he assembles a team that is best suited to compete on this monumentally pressure-packed stage.