Twitter: GeoffShac
  • Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    Playing Through: Modern Golf's Most Iconic Players and Moments
    by Jim Moriarty
  • Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    by Kevin Cook
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    The Captain Myth: The Ryder Cup and Sport's Great Leadership Delusion
    by Richard Gillis
  • The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    The Ryder Cup: Golf's Grandest Event – A Complete History
    by Martin Davis
  • A Life Well Played: My Stories
    A Life Well Played: My Stories
    by Arnold Palmer
  • Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf
    by Kevin Robbins
  • Teeing Off: Players, Techniques, Characters, and Reflections from a Lifetime Inside the Game
    Teeing Off: Players, Techniques, Characters, and Reflections from a Lifetime Inside the Game
    by Ken Bowden
« Second Ryder Cup Question: How Does 2012 Impact 2014? | Main | 2012 Ryder Cup Ratings Are Up Despite That Rental Car Ad No One Ever Wants To See Again »

First Ryder Cup Question: Did Captain Ollie Miss Opportunity For An Act Comparable To Nicklaus' Concession?

Not much came out of the "boys-will-be-boys" European team press conference, but Francesco Molinari did establish himself as one of the classiest golfers on the planet by revealing that he wanted to concede the 18th hole to Tiger Woods. With the matches decided, the celebration ensuing and chaos having overtaken Medinah's home hole, this was no longer a competitive landscape.

Bob Harig on that scene and understandable celebration after Martin Kaymer's putt:

The chaos on the 18th green carried on for several minutes. Dozens of people from the European entourage were there, as well as media conducting interviews. If it didn't matter, perhaps Woods and Molinari should have walked off, Woods getting the point and the match ending in a tie.

With over 1600 votes in our instant poll, it's a virtual 50-50 dead heat between those saying the ending was just fine and those wishing Europe had conceded the match to Woods to finish an amazing cup off in a 14-14 tie.

Harig noted the significance of this:

Only twice in Ryder Cup history has the event ended in a tie, and, although the circumstances were far different, you can bet that the Great Britain & Ireland team was thrilled with the 16-16 score in 1969 even though the Americans retained the Cup.

That was the famous "Concession" when Jack Nicklaus conceded a putt to England's Tony Jacklin on the final green. Had Jacklin missed the short putt, he would have lost his match to Nicklaus and the U.S. would have won. Instead, they halved the match and the overall Ryder Cup ended in a tie -- with the U.S. retaining the Cup.

I've tried to consider Captain Olazabal's thinking, and the only reason I can come up with for continuing to play the last half of the 18th hole was due to something in the Captain's agreement about finishing all matches.

But according to Molinari, that was not what his Captain suggested:

You know, I thought about giving him the halve on the fairway, but then the Captain was there, the Chairman was the there, they told me, it's not the same, winning or halving, so get focused and do your best, and that's what I did.  So I just tried to win the hole, to win the tournament, basically.

He's right, winning and halving are not the same. Winning is winning and the Europeans are to be commended for clutch play.

However, halving in this instance as the result of a goodwill concession probably goes down as one of the great acts of sportsmanship in golf history.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (75)

Except that in this case halving and winning are the same thing, or at least halving and losing were the same to the Americans (& judging from way the Euro team reacted after Kaymer's putt, I think they felt same way).

A different question - should halving and winning have the same result? Should there even be a half?
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterElf
Ollie handled it exactly how Seve would have and I'm sure that was part of his thinking.
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterHilltop
Make the last match be worth 1.25 points... Clear winner....ties are unAmerican.
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterVRWC
The fact that the Euros were down so much heading into Sunday made 14 points the magic number in everyone's head. No one was thinking that they'd have a chance to get to 14.5 so I think both sides were unprepared for the situation. We need to look back and see what's taken place in years where a team gets to 14 to retain the cup. I'd be willing to bet that teams celebrate typically when getting that 14th point but matches continue. I think that the huge comeback played a roll in the confusion after Kaymar made the putt. Which is exactly the defense of the US team on the 17th green in 99. Unusual circumstance.
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrian
The team with the cup knows they only need 14 pts to retain(win) the cup....the team w/o the cup knows they have to get to 14.5 to win it this instance the cup was won with Kaymer's putt.....getting to 14.5 pts made no difference bc to win the cup they just needed 14, there is no tie here really even at 14-14...the Woods/Molinari match should have ended in the fairway on 18
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterHutch
The U.S. still leads 27-12-2 all time, but are 7-9 since Europe was added. So, maybe adding Europe into the match in 1979 rates even higher than the Nicklaus concession. How many team sports do you see where someone is throttling the other side and helps them to get more competitive.
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterHilltop
Ollie's team just came back from near impossible odds to win the Ryder Cup, he can be excused for not thinking about the exact correct thing to do regarding the one match still left out on the course.
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPress Agent
From a European point of view getting 14 points and retaining the Cup is good but great is getting 14.5+ and winning it
10.1.2012 | Unregistered Commentermike
@Hilltop Spot on
10.1.2012 | Unregistered Commenterjgw
If the USA wanted a concession and therefore a tie, they should have gotten down on their knees and begged for it. Right Manos?
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPress Agent
I wonder if Ollie will regret that in a years' time. Probably not, he wanted to win outright. No harm in that. And like Press Agent says, even level-headed Olazabal might not have been thinking 100% straight in the chaos of the final few minutes.
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSamad
Honestly, my thought and I believe Tiger's thought was simply: 14 points = "winning" of the Cup by the Euros. No distinction between that amount of points and 14.5 or 15 or 16. The reason for the Captain's agreement to keep playing is focused on the individual results, as well as to provide the fans (live and on TV) with something to watch in the event of a blowout. So once they had achieved the 14, any other results were of no concern other than individual statistics, which I doubt Tiger gives a flip about - although Molinari might.
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
Seve was the one who told Monti to concede the putt to Scott Hoch in 1997. Ballesteros wanted to win the Cup more than anyone and would use every trick in his bag to achieve this, but when the Cup was decided it was over for him. I doubt Oliie honored his legacy with that. Quite the opposite
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRyan
99 was awful but a spontaneous bit of bad behavior. This was calculated. Olazabal's legacy is tainted for me.
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavidC
Judging by the Euros' celebration after Kaymer's putt, there was very little, if any, distinction between "retaining" and "winning" the Cup.

I very much doubt the outcome would be in any way dimished for anyone in Eurpoe if Tiger halves that hole, wins his match, and Europe merely "retained" the Cup. I believe the same would hold true absent an epic comeback/collapse.

So my question is, why bother anymore? Incumbent team needs 14 points to win, the other team needs 14.5. No need to put these guys in akward situations like this.
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRyan
How is 14-14 the same as 14.5-13.5? Retaining the Ryder Cup just means keeping it safe for a couple of years, it is close to winning and as close as any European could expect coming into Sunday but it is not winning, it is drawing and keeping something won previously. JMO made exactly the right decision, it was Tiger Woods who should have made Molinari putt. Just goes to show Tiger doesn't really care about Ryder Cups whereas JMO and the Euros do.
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterWinLoseOrDraw
I lost a great deal of respect for Ollie when he told Molinari to not "good/good matter who was playing.

It was post match and would have been a nice Tiger did for Molinari.

It's just something one should do.
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterStanley Thompson
I'm all for finishing matches even when they don't have an impact on the outcome, but when the scene is so much like a circus, I think the sporting thing to do would have been to acknowledge that.
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeff Smith
In '99 Payne Stewart conceded to Monty on 18, Nicklaus in '69, both were class acts, what does that say about this?
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Big K
There's something unsavory about expecting a concession if it results in a match loss. The sporting thing to do would have for the two of them to agree to halve the match while in the fairway. But do the rules permit that? In other words, could Molinari have said "TW, you hit this shot and I'll give you the next if you give me this one"?

And let's be honest about personal records in the RC. Does anyone really believe those don't matter? I'm pretty sure I saw (during the 22 minutes of the broadcast that wasn't a commercial) several dozen graphics about who had good/bad RC records. And isn't that the way we judge whether a player is actually good at match play?
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterGinGHIN
It's all very debatable, which is exactly what is going on here. I give Tiger a lot of credit, which kind of goes against the grain. Maybe, Davis should have put Tiger at No. 1 and Bubba at No. 12? Team USA should give Davis another run at it. He is a class act.
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterIvan Morris
The agreement to keep playing after the Cup is decided is likely an NBC negotiated requirement forced upon the Captains. If the US won the first 5 matches yesterday the telecast could have been over at 4:30 PM which would be brutal for NBC.

If Molinari was going to concede the second putt regardless why not concede the first putt.
OK, one final time... A TIE IS NOT A WIN, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!! "Retaining" is not the same as winning, it just means that you don't lose! Don 't you think Curtis Strange gave it his all in birdieing the last four holes against Ian Woosnam to tie the cup in 1989? What do you think Tom Kite thought when he admonished BBC's Steve Ryder during a postgame interview for suggesting that Europe now had won three straight cups? Comparisons to 1997 and 1999 are simply daft, ignorant or both - Both Europe and USA had 14,5 points in the can when Monty and Stewart conceded lengthy putts on the 18th green. Suggesting that "Olazabal's legacy is tainted" because he didn't concede a match to Tiger Frickin' Woods is further off line than a Webb Simpson shank.
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterHawkeye
my head hurts!
10.1.2012 | Unregistered Commenterrb
So all those who think JMO should have gone against the Captain's Agreement, consider this; If the USA had won the first 4 matches to get to 14, and then earned a half point in the next match to reach the magic 14.5, there are conceivably 7 matches still in progress. Do all the lads stop playing and earn a half point each to finish the day?????

It was chaotic after Kaymer won his point. I think we should cut JMO some slack, and let the history books forever show that the Ryder Cup was WON by Europe.
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterTrysil
Not at all the same as the "Concession." What was really lost here was the fact that had Kaymer missed the six footer the US would likely have won. Tiger was 1 up when the putt dropped. When Kaymer makes, the air is out of the balloon for Tiger and the US. No WAY Tiger doesn't at least halve 18 with all the marbles on the line. I actually turned off the TV before Tiger and Molinari finished because it didn't matter. Concession either way, it didn't matter...
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrian R

Needing help to turn around a 6-10 deficit on the final day of the Ryder Cup, European Captain Jose Maria Olazabel turned to Jesus and asked if he could borrow a squad of angels to act as assistant captains. The squad was led by Seve Ballesteros, who was heard clearing his throat in Heaven several times during the day, usually while a US team member was in mid-backswing. The tactic worked, as the Euros retained the cup with a final score of 14.5 to 13.5.

“I took a risk,” said Olazabel. “Jesus is often reluctant to take sides in these matches, though of course he is undefeated in all sporting events. Nobody has ever blamed him for a loss.” In the end, Seve and the rest of the angels were given the afternoon off from their usual work of preventing suicides and making butterflies land on the heads of retarded kids, in order to help Team Euro. “I can’t take all the credit for the decision,” said Olazabel. “It would never have worked without the entire team believing in invisible friends.”

Losing captain, Davis Love III, was criticised for his strategy of attempting to counter the angels with goblins and zombies. “I maintain that it would have worked,” he said. “It was just unfortunate that the zombies didn’t realise the tee times were listed in Eastern time, rather than Central. They emerged from their graves an hour late and so had to share the bus with the goblins, whom they ate on the way, having had no time for breakfast.” By the time the zombies arrived at the course they were full. Some staggered into the media tent to do their day jobs, while the rest wandered around the course chanting “USA, USA,” and shouting “You da man! Get in the hole.”

Prominent loser Tiger Woods had earlier argued with Love about the decision but was told to shut up until he won a match. “You just can’t trust zombies,” he said. “If I believed that vicious braindead subhumans were helpful, I would never have sacked Steve Williams.”
@Blackballed Vijay...LOL!
10.1.2012 | Unregistered Commenterrb
In other breaking news, Tiger and Molinari announced that they are building a new golf course together called "No Concession'. They also announced an annual 4 ball competition against Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin to played the first year at the Jack and Tony course design.

Tiger refused to comment on the rumors that he was forcing the Jack/Tony tandem to carry their own bags and play from the tips. While Molinari referred all questions to Ollie.

(all in good fun)
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterHilltop
One, the emotion that Ollie showed when he couldn't watch the putt Kaymer made,
and his reaction after, is enough for me to not think twice about it.

Molinari looked shell shocked too.

Tiger looked disappointed. Interesting that he kind of slapped it around.
Winning the cup is what matters. The tie/win/loss of 14 or 13.5 really does not
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPat Burke
A win matters, when did winning cease to matter? Nicklaus concession was an act of sportsmanship to possibly prevent a then champion letting his country down. It was also at a time when the Ryder cup was completely one sided and Nicklaus was trying to figure a way to make it competitive and an earner for golf.

His concession got more publicity for the Ryder cup than Jacklun putting would have got whether he holed it or not. I am not suggesting Nicklaus thought that through. Olazabal wanted to WIN the Ryder cup. He did so, and in incredible circumstances. Nicklaus did not care about winning the Ryder cup, his captain, Snead was reportedly furious. Nicklaus could take such a decision. Could Molinari?
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJb134
Indeed. IIRC Nicklaus said to Jacklin (I paraphrase): I'm sure you would have made that putt, but under the circumstances I wasn't about to let you miss it. The two situations are not remotely comparable. It was his first Ryder Cup due to stupid PGA rules, but Jack had already won 7 Majors (9 actually) and only Hogan, Hagen, and Jones were his peers by then. He was in a position to say to Sam Snead, "Bite me," and have it stick. He did. Besides...never concede the putt that will beat you! Play to win but play fair. Nothing unfair or untoward about this.
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
Monty gave the putt to Hoch (as per Seve's direction), Stewart gave Monty the putt (as per a sense of decency) and Nicklaus gave Jacklin the putt as an act of sportsmanship. Olazabal should have allowed Molinari to do the right thing which was to concede the hole. Bush.
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJesse
The decision should not be in the player's hands, as you can get a relatively inexperienced player like Molinari who would be reluctant to take a controversial decision. Nicklaus and Woods both have the stature in the game to make decisions. We have read all the analysis of Nicklaus' back in the day. Woods, who noted that he had been in this position before, as he had, with Parnevik (then a friend) when the Euros won in 2002, is not someone renowned for giving a flying *#$% about the Ryder Cup. Either way the result kept him from being pointless in this year's joust -- although if his physical demeanour reflected his attitude, he was quite capable of screwing up his remaining shot(s) and losing his half -- for nothing.

I thought there was some discussion of all this in 2002, but I do not remember what one of the rules experts around at the time had to say about it -- whether finishing is discretionary or prescribed. TV does come into play -- the US could have won it, theoretically, in a couple of hours. But it would be good to have a clear and stated policy before the next one. I would recommend discretionary decisions, led by the player of the winning team -- give him the right to lead -- and subject to the agreement of the other player. The Captains are too wired at this stage to take a position.

As it turned out what happened Sunday was a win-win. Tiger got half a point, Europe got to win, not retain, the Cup. Molinari got his half, too, and the knowledge his contribution had helped his team to a win.
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterGhillie
Did the historical concessions cited result in a half or a loss for Nicklaus and Stewart in their respective matches? And would that change anybody's thinking?
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKieran
Nicklaus and Jacklin halved the match, which resulted in a 16-16 tie, so the Americans kept the Cup. Incidentally that was the second singles match of the day for the pair. Jacklin had won the morning match 4&3.

Stewart's concession to Montgomery resulted in a loss for Payne, but the Cup had already been won by the Americans.

It is nice that Molinari was willing to take a loss, but Ghillie is right in his summary.,4042414&dq=ryder+cup+jacklin+conceded&hl=en
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
Ollie aside, I still think it is a meaningless distinction at this point. I'm pretty sure Sergio still would have been spraying beer all over the media center even if the score ended up 14-14. Likewise, I doubt Furyk would feel any better about himself if the US managed to tie.

And I think that would hold true if the score was 8-8 after Saturday, or even if Europe had a lead.
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRyan
While I too think that Molinari should have conceded the putt, I can equivocally state that the Captain's Agreement, as Geoff references, requires that each match be concluded. It also states that a player may indicate a concession of the match and/or hole by a handshake.

There was no handshake here - guess it shows what Ollie and Molinari think about Tiger.

The best of it though - Tiger tried slamming that putt in the hole as an f-you to Molinari - but, oops, he missed.
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJRP
Several commenters above seem to think it made a difference - to the Euros, especially - whether it ended 14-14 or 14.5-13.5. But all the evidence is against this position. There was a big celebration after Kaymer's putt. There was not a big celebration after Tiger conceded Molinari's putt. When Kaymer's putt fell, the Euros reacted as if they had won. Now it turns out that Tiger's concession of Molinari's putt meant something? Since when does a sporting event have two endings? Can you really win the same golfing event at two separate moments? It certainly didn't appear that Tiger thought so. If the outcome of the Woods - Molinari match had really mattered so much at that point, wouldn't the post-Kaymer celebration been quite a bit different? Wouldn't it have somewhat abbreviated, so that Woods and Molinari could get on with their important business? Instead of making them wait, as actually happened?

If Kaymer had missed that putt, what does anyone think the odds are that Molinari wins 18? 1% chance? 2%?
10.1.2012 | Unregistered Commenterweg
Molinari was LOSING the match.. why on earth should he concede it to Tiger?

It is Tiger who should have conceded the hole to Molinari, and then it would've finished all square.
10.1.2012 | Unregistered CommenterStord

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.