On a sad Sunday for American golf and a proud day for European golf, the superstars and wannabees on the US team were overwhelmed a dozen committed, prepared, and inspired lesser names on the battlefield of Medinah Country Club near Chicago. The cock-sure victory of the US team was transformed into a humiliating defeat as superstar after superstar wilted under the tide of pressure put on them by their more-than-worthy opponents. It was a shameful performance….the biggest blow to the pride of the PGA. How could the US team blow a huge lead on the final day of singles play? Was it possible that Europe would win 8 1/2 points in one day? The answer is easy……the European players formed a team that was inspired by the ghost of Seve Ballesteros. In the 1980’s, Seve brought competition back to the Ryder Cup which for many prior years was a walk-over for US golfers….a virtual vacation! Seve changed the attitude of Europe; and Seve’s spirit hovered over the fairways and greens of storied Medinah on Sunday as one by one America’s best crumbled. Mickelson, Woods, Furyk, Stricker, Bradley, Watson, Kuchar, Bradley…..none would win a single point for America. US Captain Davis Love expected the competition to be over with match number 7, Jason Dufner. You can be sure the American team was just marking time and telling jokes the evening before believing they had secured the Cup…….can you say over-confident!!
The hero of the Ryder Cup was Ian Poulter, who showed fierce determination and just plain refused to lose a match. Poulter played possessed! He would not be denied…..and neither would his teammates. Justin Rose sounded the death knell when he, inexplicably, made fantastic putts on the last three holes to send Phil packing.
How could the US lose? I have a theory. The Americans are independent contractors that make millions each year and fly in their private jets to far-away lands. They are treated like royalty where ever they go; there is a never-ending buffet in each locker room; there are new Titleists on the range for them to practice; golf courses are manicured; and their egos are so large that they cannot be checked at the door! They stay in blocks of rooms in fancy hotels with their swing coach, psychologist, physical therapist, short game guru, business manager (who virtually wipes their butts), caddie, and, sometimes, their families. They are given BMW’s to drive while at tournaments; and receive huge appearance fees when they play out of our country. Their focus is on only one person: Themselves! For America, team is spelled……”I”
On the other hand, Europeans have a long history of traveling together; going to dinner and drinking together; often sharing rooms in regular hotels; and getting to know each other on a personal and professional basis. It is true that over half of the European team makes their homes in America; but, the DNA of the struggles of a former second tier tour that was over-looked by the press for decades is buried deep in their psyche Every time the teams meet, the Americans are favored to win because they have more talent, more victories, and more press. The truth is that the Europeans have won 8 of the past 10 Ryder Cups. They play for each other! That is why they win.
European Captain Jose Maria Olazabal’s old mentor, Seve, is still smiling from his heavenly perch!!