Golf has its drawbacks. It is possible, by too much of it, to destroy the mind. WALTER SIMPSON
As reported by Lewine Mair in the Telegraph:
"Originally, I said that I would do it once and that would be it, but I can see circumstances in which I might allow my name to go forward again," he said as a little bubble appeared over his head with Monty's picture in it.Oh okay, I added that last part just to see if you were reading.
Woosnam was speaking at Cardiff Airport on his way to a corporate day at Celtic Manor, venue for the 2010 match against the Americans.
A sudden desire to have another crack at the job is not untypical of the withdrawal systems experienced by past captains. Bernhard Langer thought briefly about the possibility of a second run before asking for his name to be removed from the list of candidates. Sam Torrance, for his part, had a momentary wobble before returning to his long-held belief that once was enough.
Given a few days to think about it, Woosnam could well come to the same decision. Why would he want to take the risk of bowing out on a different note to September's runaway victory?
True, there are things he may think he could do better next time around – his speeches could have been rather more polished, while it would have been better had he not had champagne erupt from him on the K Club balcony.
But Lewine, he worked so hard on those speeches!
Hal Sutton talks to Cameron Morfit about the state of American golf, and in particular, issues confronting U.S. Ryder Cup teams and the PGA Tour.
The “high and long” way to play is an epidemic in the United States, Sutton says, but that style isn’t translating to birdies amid the ever-varied setups and unpredictable weather that define the Ryder Cup.
Courses continue to be built by developers trying to one-up each other in the race to build the next toughest track (even if it means driving mere mortals to quit the game) while the PGA Tour chooses broad-shouldered venues that cater mostly to bombers.
“That’s why I’ve kept hammering on it, and will until the day I day: Variety. We’ve got to have more of it,” Sutton said. “Play fast greens, play slow greens, play ’em all. Throw everything at every player. We’ll find out who the best players are. I told [PGA Tour commissioner] Tim Finchem, ‘You can cut 18 holes in the parking lot and Tiger will find a way to win.’”
To show that he’s walking the walk, Sutton pointed to Boot Ranch. He went out of his way, he said, to make sure the course included doglegs left and right, short holes, long holes and a variety of lies and looks.
“There’s a driver, there’s fairway woods, there’s long irons, middle irons, short irons, wedges and a putter,” Sutton said. “There’s 14 clubs in there. There’s a fade and there’s a slice. There’s a draw and there’s a hook. There’s a high ball and there’s a low ball. There’s backspin and there’s overspin. And by the way, they’re all part of the game, and by the way, you should know how to hit every shot and every club. If you’re on the PGA Tour you don’t have to."
Bob Verdi was the only correspondent to write about the shower situation at a Ryder Cup hotel, following up on his stellar reports from Hoylake. So I guess he's pretty much a lock to win the the GWAA writing contest's first ever Bad Shower Division.
I promised on my last trip over here that I would never again complain about showers, but I must relate one more incident. The other night, the shower pipe wiggled loose from its mooring and attacked me. It was my most frightening shower event since Anthony Perkins and his knife went after Janet Leigh in "Psycho." The pipe, with a mind of its own, wrapped around my neck and I had a decision. Do I continue blowing 400 pounds per night here at the O'Bates Motel, or do I just die right here? I've said mean things about showers in Europe, and it's obvious they talk among themselves when I'm not around. I chose to put the pipe in its place and live. You know what they say. Another day, another Euro.
Just in case you didn't see it, or you just want to have one more laugh at the expense of Tiger's boorish caddie...
Some of the highlights from Ryder Cup week, starting with the opening ceremony.
JPB writes: Well, the Americans won the battle of clothes. The Euro outfits were pimptastic and fit in with the Al Czervik development. He did do the condos at the K Club right? It is good to see midcentury Miami golf hustler come back in style. I didn't see the whole thing so I missed the entertainment and whatnot. The sppeches I heard could have been worse. So all in all better than I expected.
Once the matches got going, JPB also noted the painful pace of play: Horrifying that a match could take over 5 hours. Something needs to be done. Even if you are playing for your life, it might not be worth living any longer if a round, especially in match play, takes 5.5 hours. And the Ryder cup is an exhibition, not life or death.
As the rout developed, DAW noted: Is it not possible that the explanation for the current result is simply that the Europeans are just a tiny bit better, particularly on a familiar course and with the crowd behind them? Why do we have to go through the usual finger-pointing exercise? Is it really that hard for the press to come up with another angle?
And once the rout was complete, Hawkeye wrote: I would just like to say something positive about the US team that has been almost completely overlooked - the fact that the four rookies have scored points in five of the seven matches they have played. Compare that to #1 & #2 in the world scoring points in just three of the eight matches they have played, with two wins and a halve.
LEFTY: In 2008 at Valhalla, Captain Azinger will lead America to a dazzling display an incredible 10 points, five of them scored by crusty, old veteran Tiger Woods, fourth oldest member of a team that also includes Furyk, Chris DiMarco (a captain's pick despite falling to 168th on the OWGR) Mickelson, Ryan Moore, Lucas Glover, Sean O'Hair, Kyle Reifers, Michael Putnam, Anthony Kim, J.B. Holmes and Billy Horshcel. I'm excited already...
F.X. observes: One thing I notice about younger better players is that they aren't interested much in match play with handicaps, as if it is somehow unmanly to put their game to the test except in stroke play. If the very best players we produce are inculcated with this mindset at a young age, what hope do they have of competing in match play at the highest levels? They simply don't perceive it as "real golf." It's just nuts since the whole handicapping system is designed to let players of unequal skill compete as equals at match play. One suggestion: start a movement among high schools to play at least half their matches in Ryder-Cup formats. Get the best young teens tasting fourball and foursomes.
Tim Liddy: Why is it so hard for us to realize that the US does not have the best golfers (as a group) in the world anymore? Why can't someone say it publicly instead of their putts dropped, they play better as a team, etc. They have a better team!
ScottS: There is always discussion around this time about golf being an "individual sport", and that "medal play is the truest test", but it stands out rather strikingly that when those seemingly cardinal principles are infringed on even slightly that all hell breaks loose. Figures like the top US players tend to be held up in the light of being great as individual players who want nothing less than to dominate and destroy. So, when domination of only half of the field and supporting the other half becomes the game, they seem to faulter.
the village idiot: In America we don't golf with others. We golf by and for ourselves, trying to post our own scores. We don't care for the social interaction of a game. We try to beat our personal best. Says a lot about why we suck at match play, no? For self-obsessed Americans, having to pay attention to how other people are playing is too much of a distraction!
CBell: Surely the Euros are at least the equals of the Yanks at the game, but we don't perceive them in the same light. We'd take a lot more pleasure from seeing Donald Trump lose a contract or, say, be dumped by a supermodel wife than we would from seeing the same thing happen to some lesser-known mogul from afar. In our hearts it's simple justice meted out by the fickle gods of golf - and divine justice trumps loyalty to the state for all but the shallowest of men.
jneuman: Wilt Chamberlain said nobody roots for Goliath. That's us on the international scene. Rooting for the U.S. is like rooting for the New York Yankees -- we have the most resources by a huge margin, and therefore we really OUGHT to win everything. What fun is it to root for a side playing with a stacked deck?
Mark Holthoff: I think it's because almost no one on the American side seems to be having any fun. While we're busy "gutting it out," the Europeans are enjoying themselves, each other, and the game itself -- and that's a lot more fun to watch.
Sean Murphy: The United States' next Ryder Cup Captain should be the grossly neglected......Larry Nelson.
And finally, Chuck wrote: It is interesting (and perhaps just a mere coincidence) that one of the greatest extended periods of success for Europe in the Ryder Cup coincides with one of the greatest periods of futility for Europeans in the major chanpionships.
Earlier in the week I wondered about the impact of a possible four day Ryder Cup starting on Thursday instead of the current Firday-Sunday setup.
One strategic element lost might be that rare time during morning four-balls when the Captain's have to figure out their afternoon pairings. As we saw this year, Tom Lehman twice left J.J. Henry out of afternoon play, only to have Henry light up the back nine and leave everyone wondering why he was left out of foursomes.
This question brought reader Blue Blazer out of hiding, with the great fan of all things USGA insisting that the players have created this awkward situation with their painfullly slow play (five-plus hours for the first four-ball out!). BB says 80s and 90s matches used to end around noon (as opposed to 1 p.m this year), giving the Captain's another hour to sort out their afternoon pairings.
So Blue Blazer is right that it is not unfair to the Captains to have to make their afternoon pairings with only nine or so holes of golf played for some.
It's a slow play problem.
From a story by Garry Smits:
Nicklaus said the U.S. Ryder Cup team had the same intangibles going for it as the European team.
"They [the U.S.] played for pride and their country, the same things as they other guys," he said. "They played as a team. They just got whipped. The Europeans just played better."
Nicklaus said he didn't watch all the matches, but he guessed that the U.S. team played with as much desire as it did last year in the Presidents Cup.
"They probably played just as hard for [captain] Tom [Lehman]," he said.
Nicklaus said reversing the U.S. Ryder Cup fortunes had to start with developing younger players who had an instinct for winning.
"The big problems is we don't have any young players," he said. "Tiger was the youngest player on our team, and he's 30. We've only got one player in the U.S. under 30 who's won more than one more tournament.
"I think the colleges are developing players who are good at winning college tournaments, but that promotes playing conservatively. I don't think they come out of college knowing how to win yet."
Get your tissues out, Peter Kostis offers this emotional heart tugger of an anecdote to remind us that he's teaching one of the best players in the world.
I've been Paul Casey's coach five years, so when he made that ace on 14 yesterday—well, let's just say it was something special. A walk-off hole-in-one at the Ryder Cup—just the fifth in event history—to win your match! I was following Paul's foursomes match. When we reached the 14th, Paul's girlfriend Jocelyn turned to me and said, "This shot is right up his alley." It's like she knew. He didn't even see the ball go in, due to the topography.
Or the lousy shaping work. Eh, just a thought...
When he watched his swing on the Jumbotron, he could read the lips of about 5,000 people saying, "Get in the hole!" Then he gave me the ball—an amazing gesture. He said something very personal which I'd rather not share, but the fact that he gave that ball to me, of all the people he could have handed it to, shows the kind of kid he is.
My NSA sources picked up Casey's comments to Kostis and passed them along: "Peter, since I couldn't get you a room here at the K Club, maybe you can sell this on Ebay to recoup some cash to pay for that lousy $500-a-night hotel room in Kildare."
Despite the rout, there's still plenty to say about the Ryder Cup, starting with Golf World's Ron Sirak on the tape delay issue:
TV networks have to face the fact that times have changed. The Internet makes it impractical to take live events and repackage the time element out of them. Remember, a large part of what is compelling about sports is that it is an unscripted improvisational drama happening now. Why turn it into an old made-for-TV movie?
Brett Avery issues his report card in the new Golf World, and it's not pretty for the U.S. team. They also have posted the stats and scoring package in a PDF file.
Jim Furyk commented on the Ryder Cup in his Amex press conference. Anyone care to guess who the writer was?
Q. I meant the Europeans, they're not winning majors, but they do very well in the Ryder Cup.
JIM FURYK: I think they would find that question very offensive because now you're taking a shot at them in the major championships. You're offending someone, I'm not sure exactly who it is (laughter).
I don't mean it that way, but as an American player in the Ryder Cup, I had a writer, actually very well respected writer from the U.S., a guy that everyone in this room would know, ask me point blank to my face whether it was all over on Sunday whether in the whole big scheme of things whether it actually mattered to me. Now, without wanting to reach out and just strangle him or send a few F bombs his way, I just bit my tongue, said yes, told him he offended me and walked away. There's not much else I can do. It's an offensive question.
Nothing towards you, but when you all write stuff about us about how bad we played, if someone writes last week that I played awful, I had no game, I didn't show up, you know what, I can accept anything physical. But when someone questions what's inside me or my teammates, that's kind of like the offensive part. That's where I think guys get upset.
I'm not upset with you or anything like that. I understand the questions. But for everyone that knows me inside, they know how important the Ryder Cup is. And if you can't get up for the Ryder Cup, you don't have a pulse. It is the premium event. I get more jacked up for that than I could imagine ever getting jacked up for an event individually, maybe to a fault at times, but it's exciting. You could not step on the first tee last week and listen to everyone pound their feet in the stands and listen to the place going nuts and singing and thinking, how cool is this.
Lorne Rubenstein swoons over dreaded 2010 site Celtic Manor even though the course is under the knife not long after its original design was deemed a complete disaster.
In a Globe and
Mirror Mail column, he wonders if the U.S. team has been harmed by the President's Cup.
Consider the six Ryder Cups played before the first Presidents Cup, back to 1983, that is. The United States won three and tied one. However, as mentioned, the U.S. team has won only one of the six Ryder Cups since the Presidents Cup started.
Why might the Presidents Cup make such a difference? Remember, this is just a theory.
It could be because the U.S. players who qualify for both the Presidents Cup and the Ryder Cup -- read Woods, Mickelson and Jim Furyk, to name three heavyweights -- are called upon to represent their country every year.
The Europeans, however, are called upon every two years. They have 24 months to build up to the Ryder Cup, without interruption. They're fresh when they play.
The U.S. players who qualify for the Presidents Cup and the Ryder Cup don't have that amount of time to get excited about the Ryder Cup. This isn't to say the Presidents Cup isn't worthwhile in its own right. It came into its own in 2005 when the United States beat the International team by three points in a dramatic confrontation at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Prince William Country, Va.
While chatting off-air with his colleagues, Miller said Tiger Woods was "playing like crap" and that he hit one shot like a "cripple."
Only Miller wasn't entirely off the air.
Unbeknownst to the NBC crew, its off-air banter had actually been piped into the U.S. team's locker room (as well as the media center).
While expressing continued exasperation with the U.S. team's performance, Miller also referred to Scott Verplank as a lead weight and said that U.S. Captain Tom Lehman should have benched Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in the afternoon's foursome matches, but that he didn't because Lehman was afraid to "take the heat" he would face for shelving the world's No. 1 and 3 ranked players.
The NBC team learned about the locker room feed when David Toms alerted on-course reporter Mark Rolfing. Rolfing immediately told his colleagues, and an awkward silence ensued. Miller, seemingly unfazed, then sent greetings to the U.S. team.
Within minutes, the NBC feed to the media center went silent.
SI posted a poll of PGA teaching pros from Golf Magazine's 100 best, asking them to pick the next Ryder Cup Captain. The results:
Corey Pavin 35%
Paul Azinger 26%
Fred Couples 26%
Davis Love III 10%
Jeff Sluman 3%
Well that's settled. After all, we know how the PGA of America always listens to its constituents.
Lawrence Donegan offers his final thoughts on the Ryder Cup:
Even those who are not in the gang, such as Sergio García, are granted temporary membership for Ryder Cup week. Colin Montgomerie, too. At the start of the post-victory press conference, a US journalist asked the team to sum up the Scotsman's contribution to the European cause.
"Careful lads, careful. Make it good, " interjected Montgomerie, perhaps mindful that several of his team-mates are less than complimentary about him the other 51 weeks of the year. But he need not have worried.
"Monty is simply a leader on the course and off it," volunteered Westwood. "He's proven today that he is an inspiration when he goes out first in the singles. He's a pretty quick player, too, so he likes going out first." As eulogies go it was hardly WH Auden but this contribution spoke of the mentality of the European team, every one of whom was happy to lay aside ancient enmities in the greater cause of victory.
From Alan Shipnuck's SI game story:
Why can't Johnny win? Maybe because the players on the PGA Tour get so rich with a few top 10s that they never learn how to close the deal. Maybe it's because Europeans grow up competing in more match play, or that the far-flung logistics of their insular tour breeds more camaraderie. Maybe Americans' obsession with making technically perfect swings has de-emphasized the art of scoring. Or maybe Europe simply has better players: Coming into the Ryder Cup, eight members of its team were in the top 20 in the World Ranking, compared with just four for the Yanks.
These arguments, and others, have been kicked around for the better part of the last decade, but one point is indisputable -- an event in which only pride is at stake brings out the best in their stars and the worst in ours.
And John Huggan weighs in at Golfobserver with this point about Mickelson, which I suspect will be made many more times in the coming months:
The question is simple: Is he willing to take golf even remotely seriously after the PGA Championship in August? If not, Mickelson should forfeit his place in all future US sides. That he should pitch up in Ireland not having played competitively for a month was a disgrace, an insult to his teammates and indicative of his less than enthusiastic approach to representing his country in golf's most compelling event. Instead of being on the course these past few days, the 36-year old Californian should have taken the advice offered by a wonderfully 'Irish' sign at the K Club: "Lost people should go to the information centre in the tented village."
And Huggan addresses the idea of the U.S. becoming "The Americas" team:
Then again, one has to wonder what Jack Nicklaus was thinking as he surveyed from afar the carnage that was America's Team. Was he musing the possibility of the hapless US side being bolstered by the likes of Canada's Mike Weir, Angel Cabrera of Argentina and Columbian Camilio Villegas in a newly constituted 'Americas' team? To even suggest such a thing can no longer be dismissed as frivolous or mere mischief making. After two successive nine-point shellackings that hardly bode well for the new world's prospects at Valhalla two years hence, it is a question that brings with it a growing legitimacy.
And, how can you not love this:
Finally, on a personal note, your correspondent is sure he is hardly alone in taking an enormous amount of pleasure from the delicious last day moment that saw Woods' caddie, the despicable Steve Williams, slip on a rock left of the 7th green and drop his boss's 9-iron into the drink. The only pity was that the endlessly boorish New Zealander did not do likewise.
That would have been the perfect end to a memorable week. Well done Darren. Well done Ireland. Get a grip America.
...well, for today anyway.
If the rumored move to a Thursday-Sunday setup happens in 2008, this would significantly alter the Captain's strategy on day 1.
As a trusted observer pointed out to me today, the pressure on the Captain's to make their afternoon foursome's selections creates one of the few moments where the Captain's have to make big decisions under the gun.
A move splitting the opening four-ball and foursomes play would eliminate one more bit of strategy and pressure.
Big deal or not?
Let the Monday morning quarter...actually, the matches would have to be close for there to be any second guessing.
No, the stories continue to marvel at the slaughter and the potential fallout for American golf.
Sandy Lyle gloats to The Scotsman's Mike Aitken:
"At the moment the future is looking very strong for us," said Lyle, one of Ian Woosnam's backroom men at the K Club. "I think we'll need to have a handicap system if it continues like this. We are producing very strong teams and they are on the ropes. Long may it continue."James Corrigan asks questions in the Independent and highlights some of the more critical U.S. writers.
Asked why the pendulum had swung so far in Europe's favour, Lyle added: "The European Tour has been getting stronger and stronger for many years.
Also, we have to thank Tiger Woods. We look at him and we see how hard we have to work on our games to try to get to his level."
Maybe the best critique came from Peter Dixon in The Times:
In reality, the Americans are a bunch of rich individuals thrown together for a week. Brett Wetterich, among the four faceless rookies in the team, had never met Woods until a few weeks before the Ryder Cup and probably will never meet him again.Oh but he's not done...
The US team may well have “fun” in the team room, but they do not come across as great friends. Who among the Americans is as close as Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood, Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley, Sergio García and Luke Donald? When the chips are down, it is such friendships that can pull you through. Ask Clarke.
Perhaps the most telling statement of the week was Mickelson’s, when he said that it was “awkward” not having the likes of Davis Love III and Fred Couples in the side, great players “you expect to see on US teams”. What he should have said was: “I’m a celebrity, get me out of here.”
Much more of this and you could see Tim Finchem, the commissioner of the PGA Tour, being put under pressure to put a cap on the number of overseas players allowed to join the tour.
There is plenty of squealing in the women’s game in the US because of the number of South Koreans walking off with the lion’s share of the prize-money. How long before the men start complaining?
Finish in the top 80 of the PGA Tour and you will earn about $1 million in prize-money alone. That is a huge sum for mediocrity. This is a society for whom winning is everything, but its golfers, metaphorically speaking, have flabby underbellies — and boy were they exposed at the K Club.
Monty weighs in with a guest commentary for the Telegraph, and you would think his lead is a joke, but it's not.
If our team had a secret over the week, it was the way we boosted each other's self-esteem at every possible opportunity. It was Ian Woosnam's idea. Every time one of us was about to tee off at the first, Woosie, or one of his assistants, would be there to say, "You're a great champion," or something along those lines.
Wow, I thought our guys were simple!
Golfobserver's Peter McCleery analyzes NBC's Ryder Cup telecast, focusing his criticism on the outdated nature of tape-delay coverage in the Internet era. He says sucked the life out of the Friday/Saturday telecasts here in the States, and I would agree. But even on tape, NBC could have done better...
If you're going to tape everything, use the time more wisely. As it was, there was 20 minute of nonaction to fill on Saturday, and the 20 minutes before that featured only one match still in progress.
Might NBC suggest that they didn't have enough time to edit the dreadfully slow morning four-balls, even though we know they did based on those tacky Rolex clocks decorating each tee?
Anyway, McCleery concludes:
Here's hoping this is the last tape-delayed Ryder Cup ever and the last walkover in a while. The PGA and NBC have another four years to figure it all out. That's twice the time that the American players have. It should be enough to finally get this thing right.
They just had two years since the last Cup to devise an Internet strategy for this year's event, announcing the exclusive online coverage the day before the matches started.
However, there may be hope for U.S. viewers when the matches are played at Celtic Manor in 2010. It has been rumored that Friday Ryder Cup play may be spread out over two days (like the Presidents Cup). This would allow for 1 p.m. tee times on new host network ESPN, meaning a respectable start time in the east coast. And of course, we know that's all that matters.
This would also allow for a 10 or 11 a.m. start at Valhalla, allowing European viewers to go to bed at decent hour.
However, a Thursday start still doesn't solve the Saturday-on-NBC issue. And of course, we know that's all that matters.
Lots of great coverage, so let the celebration (and questions) begin:
Lawrence Donegan in The Guardian:
The Americans arrived in Dublin as underdogs, played like underdogs and will be cast as underdogs for as long as the likes of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson fail to produce their true form in the context of a team event. Indeed, so one-sided was the contest that at times during yesterday's session of 12 singles matches it seemed the impossible was on the cards - a Ryder Cup without drama.
Fortunately there was enough raw emotion in the air to ensure the day will live long in the memory. Woosnam's victory address will not trouble the compilers of the Oxford Book of 21st Century Speeches but the much-derided Welshman showed a wonderful touch when he sent Clarke out in the seventh tie of the day. Four points ahead overnight, Europe needed 4½ points to win the trophy. This left the Irishman, whose wife Heather died from breast cancer six weeks ago, with the maximum chance of delivering the ending the home crowd and his team-mates so desperately wanted.
Doug Ferguson summarizes each of the singles matches if, God forbid, you want to relive the rout.
Gary Van Sickle on SI.com:
This was the best Ryder Cup because -- and Darren Clarke is going to hate this sentence -- it was all about Darren Clarke. This Ryder Cup belonged to him -- no, it was for him, although he'd be embarrassed by your attention and feel uneasy about your sympathy. Clarke deserved this Ryder Cup week and maybe, if not probably, he needed it. Ryder Cups are always thick with emotion, but there's never been one this emotional.
David Feherty on Golfonline:
You can bet half your ass the American players always care about the event and each other, and bet the other cheek on the fact that this carousel will come around. It will come around even quicker if all fans of American golf get behind it and push.
Moving into the "what-to-do-next" division, Scott Michaux in the Augusta Chronicle offers a few thoughts, but first he has to get this off his chest:
The only thing more embarrassing than the final result was DiMarco fist-pumping his birdie on the 17th hole that extended his match with Lee Westwood. His comeback effort from five down with seven to go against a player who was ill overnight and carrying a fever on the course was meaningful only to himself. It was like doing a dance after a sack with your team trailing by seven touchdowns. Hitting two balls in the water on the 18th was his just reward.
The Golf Gazette's Ken Carpenter offers his suggestions for turning things around on the U.S. side.
Have you ever seen wives and girlfriends jumping on the pile after a team wins the World Series? No. Do significant others wear matching “uniforms” at an NFL game? No. Do NBA organizations allow wives and girlfriends to travel on the team plane? Rarely, if ever. Do significant others march into an Olympic stadium during the opening ceremonies? Never.
There were reports last week that the wives were in the USA’s team room when captain Tom Lehman was addressing the troops. Has Bill Belichick ever invited the girls into the Super Bowl locker room? Yeah, right . . .
Motivate Mickelson: If Phil Mickelson wants to “shut it down” after the PGA Championship every year, then he should give up his spot on the team and go to the beach. In the last two Ryder Cups he’s 1-7-1; in the last two Presidents Cups he’s 3-5-2 — that’s an abysmal 4-12-3 record, totally unacceptable for someone annually ranked in the top three in the world. In 2008, Mickelson needs to play his way into shape prior to the event — assuming he isn’t fully retired by that point.
ESPN.com's Gene Wojciechowski weighs in on the what-to-do-about-the-U.S. subject, as does AP's Jim Litke, who talks to Michael Jordan about what ails America.
James Lawton in the Independent says the Americans need to start playing better or the Ryder Cup will be diminished.
The truth, and it is a bitter one for anyone embracing the idea that the Ryder Cup has a format and a tradition that makes it one of the great jewels of the sporting universe, is that the long months of hype, the millions of euros of investment, delivered something rather less than glittering. What was forthcoming was not a serious collision of some of the most talented and best rewarded sportsmen in the world but another day when the blue of Europe covered the scoreboard almost as though it was spilling from a can of paint. It meant that those who believed the humiliation inflicted on the United States in Michigan two years ago would concentrate the collective mind of an American team boasting four major winners - Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, David Toms and Jim Furyk against Europe's one, Jose Maria Olazabal - to make a real contest this time were not so much confounded as embarrassed.
The Telegraph featured this commentary by David Leadbetter, who writes:
But in its structure, the American golf system is simply not set up for these grand team events. Even at junior level, the focus is overwhelmingly on individual scores, rather than team dynamics. An event such as the Ryder Cup, squeezed into an already tight schedule, is almost a nuisance to them.
Douglas Lowe looks at Tom Lehman's dismissive response to the idea of adding Canada and South America to the U.S. Ryder Cup equation.
I'm not so sure. Lorena Ochoa might be an upgrade?
Martin Johnson approached the same topic but also covered Woosie's celebratory cleansing:
In the battle of the captains, Ian Woosnam had the easier job because he had the better players, and it was no great surprise when the Ryder Cup went to a bloke who wasn't much taller than the trophy itself. After spending months practising his speeches in front of the bedroom mirror, one of golf's great bon viveurs had promised himself a small libation at the end of it all, but we didn't think this would involve an attempt to down an entire jeroboam of champagne in one herculean swig.
The end result was a blowback of such Vesuvian proportions that the eruption of escaping champagne flew out of every visible orifice bar Woosie's ears.
Back to the state of U.S. golf, Thomas Boswell in the Washington Post:
Lehman insisted that his players were "prepared" and played "their best" with "heart and courage." Because it's presumably true, that only makes these back-to-back 18 1/2 -9 1/2 scores more damaging to the PGA Tour's reputation. Asked if more such wipeouts might send this mega-money-making event "back in the other direction" toward lessened popularity, Lehman said: "That sounds a little insulting. . . . Things have cycles. There will be a time when we'll be sitting here saying to the Europeans, 'Is this [event] in danger of becoming a little bit in trouble because the American team is on top?'
"That will happen."
Image buffs, SI's shots from Sunday are here, Golf Digest's here. Golfonline's do not feature a direct link.
Oh, and it was an unnamed photographer from Getty Images who captured the shot of Stevie losing Tiger's 9-iron. Nice work Stevie!
Rob Hodgett on the BBC blog analyzes the Dublin comedy festival that broke out during the Euro press conference. I think it's one of those "you had to be there" deals. It did seem funnier on TV.
The Chicago Tribune's Ed Sherman looks ahead to 2012, yes, 2012 and Medinah, forecasting the U.S. roster for those matches.
Here's a guess at the makeup of the U.S. squad at Medinah:
Captain: Davis Love III. The six-time Ryder Cup player will get his shot.
Woods: Might have 21 majors by then.
Furyk: Will he still be paired with Woods?
Chad Campbell: Looks to be a U.S. fixture.
Zach Johnson: Performed well as a rookie in 2006.
Vaughn Taylor: Fellow players are very high on him.
Ryan Moore: Expect him to be a star.
Ben Curtis: Proved that 2003 British Open victory wasn't a fluke.
Lucas Glover: Big hitter could make Ryder debut in 2008.
Sean O'Hair: A load of potential that should be fulfilled.
J.B. Holmes: Long hitter could be a Ryder Cup force.
Mickelson: Star sliding, but Love still takes him.
Michelle Wie: She couldn't do any worse than her predecessors.
I admired the U.S. team players, our captain and their sportsmanship throughout the matches.
Yet, why is it that I and (a surprising number of) Americans derive just a wee bit of pleasure watching the U.S. Ryder Cup team lose?
Is it the notion that these losses reinforce the unsophisticated nature of American golf, where one-dimensional formats, setups and courses seem to render even our best players vulnerable in Ryder Cup match play settings?
Obviously part of this had to do with Darren Clarke's amazing play and emotional comeback.
But no, it's something else. Please help.
One more day before we get to spend the next two years hearing about the U.S. team's efforts to build a stronger bond. Or maybe we'll get lucky and Captain Paul Azinger will just tell them to make more putts.
In the meantime, there are still 12 points up for grabs Sunday and anything can happen. Well, not if you ask the world's great inkslingers.
John Huggan offers capsules of Sunday's singles matches, which will probably be underway by the time you are reading this. He also looks at Sergio's epic Ryder Cup play.
Chris Lewis is a guest contributor at the Scotsman's Sunday edition and he's trying to figure out how it came to be that the American rookies played great while the stars fizzled.
Doug Ferguson offers these capsules of Saturday's matches.
For photo buffs, Golf Digest offers these images while Golfonline's best stuff from day 2 is posted here.
Golfweek's Alistair Tait is already declaring Ian Woosnam the superior captain for not screwing this up while Golf World's John Hawkins has already begun to figure out where it all went wrong.
The European Tour's George O' Grady is already assuring everyone that there will be plenty of nearby parking at Celtic Manor in Wales. Boy it must be bad at The K Club!
The Principal says the combination of monsoons and helicopters constantly flying in and out made The K Club feel more like Vietnam circa 1968 than Ireland. Incidentally, Arnold Palmer cited the impressive helicopter operation when talking on NBC about what a great job the Irish are doing this week.
Gee, I wonder how Arnie's getting to the course?
Speaking of Palmer, it seems he was charged he played Bandon Dunes recently, the first time since he was 17! Thanks to reader Van for this from David Davies in the Telegraph:
Arnold Palmer, who designed this Ryder Cup course, earned a special tribute in Ian Woosnam's opening ceremony speech.
"He's been an inspiration to us all... a legend," Woosie said. Arnie is a famous face among sporting personalities in America, except, it seems, at the Bandon Dunes resort in Oregon. He arrived to have a look at the course which recently hosted the Curtis Cup and, on deciding to play, was asked: "How would you like to pay for this?" One credit card imprint later and Palmer, 77, remarked wryly to friends: "That's the first time I've paid to play golf since I was 17."
The Golfweek crew chimes in with various blog observations on Saturday's play.
Marina Hyde in The Guardian looks at Tom Lehman and his WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) bracelet along with other religious elements of his captaincy.
And finally, the BBC blog's Rob Hodgetts offers the best quotes of the day on the BBC blog.
Hard to get excited about some of these Sunday singles matches.
Perhaps that bodes well for the final day. Boring on paper, exciting on the ground? Let's hope so. I'm rising at 4 a.m. for this. Well, scratch that. Thanks to TiVo, make that 5:30. I'll be caught up by six at this commercial-break pace.
11:15AM Montgomerie (EUR) vs. Toms (US)
11:27AM Garcia (EUR) vs. Cink (US)
11:39AM Casey (EUR) vs. Furyk (US)
11:51AM Karlsson (EUR) vs. Woods (US)
12:03PM Donald (EUR) vs. Campbell (US)
12:15PM McGinley (EUR) vs. Henry (US)
12:27PM Clarke (EUR) vs. Johnson (US)
12:39PM Stenson (EUR) vs. Taylor (US)
12:51PM Howell (EUR) vs. Wetterich (US)
1:03PM Olazábal (EUR) vs. Mickelson (US)
1:15PM Westwood (EUR) vs. DiMarco (US)
1:27PM Harrington (EUR) vs. Verplank (US)