Few fans paid any mention to the Ryder Cup 25 years ago. It wasn’t even a big deal in golf. Now it is perhaps the premier event in golf and a major sports event that has earned almost equal billing with football for one autumn weekend every two years.
Compelling and unpredictable competition is one reason. The fact that the fans in attendance are allowed to treat it like a football or soccer game is another. That’s never been truer than this year when Europe won the Cup by equaling the greatest Sunday comeback ever.
My head is still reeling from the USA’s loss. There have been dozens of theories as to how/why the USA blew a 4-point lead going into Sunday’s singles matches.
My theory is simple. I call it the perfect storm.
On one hand, the Euros started making every putt – and a few chip shots. Meanwhile, the Americans were choking.
Tiger Woods will, no doubt, receive most of the blame from Joe Fan. Indeed, a prescription for defeat is when your best player doesn’t win a match. But Tiger didn’t perform as poorly as his record indicates. This isn’t a case of defending Tiger. It’s fact.
The USA’s biggest problem was two of its most experienced – and two oldest – players, Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker. Furyk choked, plain and simple. His collapse shouldn’t have surprised anyone. Twice before this year on big stages, including the U.S. Open, he crumpled in the face of pressure. Stricker simply played poorly, three times as Tiger’s partner. Both were captain’s picks and neither should have been on the team. I said that before the Ryder Cup. You can look it up.
For the Euros, Ian Poulter deserves a ticker-tape parade throughout Europe. His picture should be in the dictionary beside the word momentum. His five straight closing birdies to win his Saturday afternoon match lit the fire that allowed the Euros to torch the USA on Sunday.
It was great theater. It was intense competition. I’m already looking forward to the 2014 Ryder Cup.
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