Ryder Cup – Final Day
Final Day of the Ryder Cup. Europe 16 ½ and the United States 11 ½. Was it really that close? There was a glimmer of hope early this morning with the American’s up in nine matches with two all square and one match losing. That quickly changed and dramatic ally! In the end the better team won; the better team hit better shots; the best team made the clutch shots, and really kind of toyed with their competition.
The tale of the Ryder Cup can be summed up in the Foursome competition. This is the Alternate Shot format where you hit every other shot until the ball is holed. One person tees off on all odd holes and other partner on the even holes. In this competition the European side never lost a match, winning six of eight matches while tying the other two. In European this form of competition is very common, while in the US it is almost never played. There is a different mentality to play well using Alternate Shot, maybe we should’ve concentrated or practiced that format a bit more.
However, we lost because we didn’t have the firepower that the Europeans had. Webb Simpson, Hunter Mahan and Keegan Bradley are not going to strike fear in the hearts of the Europeans. Zach Johnson is a fighter, but gives up a lot of distance off the tee. Phil Mickelson has been off and on all year. He was off the first day, but solid in the singles. Matt Kuchar played well in the Four-Ball match on Saturday, but was stomped by the brilliant play of Justin Rose. Other than that he was a disappointment. Bubba Watson is either on or off. This wasn’t a course that suited his game. Accuracy and straight is the ticket, which is not his strong point. After that you have to putt consistently. Unfortunately, his putting, especially under pressure is not reliable. If I were choosing a team tomorrow, I would include Bubba. Too much talent and when he’s right, he’s world class. Poor Jim Furyk, he played well all week and had only one win and three loses. He could’ve won all his matches, but his opponents made the clutch shots. The rookies were great. Spieth, Reed, and Walker were solid. Finally, Rick Fowler was a rock until the last round.
Rick Fowler finally lived up to his hype this past summer. Working with Butch Harmon, he blossomed into an outstanding ball striker. It’s one thing to have a great swing, but it’s another thing to produce it under extreme pressure. This year he did all of that. In the Ryder Cup, he had three ties and two losses. The three ties were great matches and each felt like a victory. The blowout loss in the final Foursome match I will overlook because of the clutch play up to that time. However, the singles match with Rory McIlroy in the third match the final day is another story. You are bordering on “superstar” territory. Your team really needs a win, if they have any chance to win the cup. This was an opportunity to make a statement and show what’s inside. What happened was Rory schooled Rick in every way. This was a beatdown that wasn’t as close as the final total indicates. Rory played in Tiger Wood’s territory and Ricky was two levels down. If it was a fight, they would’ve called it in the second round. Will be interesting to see if Ricky will continue his good play next year or will this be a blow to his psyche. I think Ricky thought he was equal to Rory, but this might have put him back in his place.
The other match that was very interesting and very surprising was the Jordan Spieth and Graham McDowell match. Spieth was brilliant on the opening holes and had a six to eight foot putt on the sixth or seventh hole to go four up. He missed, but made the turn at three up. That’s a BIG lead and you are playing well. It’s a lead that good players don’t give up. But three bogeys in the next four holes and a McDowell birdie and Spieth is one down. Wow, I didn’t see that coming. Jordan is a potential superstar with a competitor’s attitude that is rare for a 21 year old. I have stated privately that Spieth doesn’t do anything great. He is just very good at all aspects of the game. Most professional golfers have a weakness, but make it up with brilliance in something else. Jordan is just steady good. I have stated that for him to win a Major, he needs to become great at something. His best bet is to become a better putter. After taking a body blow and losing four holes in a row, he couldn’t muster shots necessary to climb back in the game. He looked a bit dazed for the next four holes. I think he has the moxie to learn from this experience. I hope Ricky can do it also.
Tom Watson will be second guessed on many fronts. His Captain picks weren’t inspirational and then they didn’t perform as he would’ve hoped. He sat the hot team of Reed and Spieth in the afternoon and played the wild hitting inconsistent team of Mickelson and Bradley in the Alternation Shot format. Watson is as solid a person as there is. I think his captaincy was excellent. He is intelligent, articulate, and a positive leader. Leaders can make errors, but he had a group of players that were not as talented as the European’s. This year it was clear who the best team was. Hate to say it, but the best team won. Well played!