September 22, 2006


An American Victory Is in the Forecast (Thomas Boswell, September 22, 2006, Washington Post)

Just 19 years ago, the Ryder Cup came of age when, for the first time, Europe defended the Cup on American soil -- winning on a course built by Jack Nicklaus in Dublin, Ohio. Now, we've come full circle. The Americans are the betting underdogs, the scorned side, the losers of four of the last five Cups who were trounced two years ago by the ludicrous score of 18 1/2 to 9 1/2 . So, they seek revenge just a few miles from a different Dublin on an Arnold Palmer-designed American-style parkland course.

The Americans will win here. They're not the better dozen men. The winner in the Ryder Cup seldom is. Time after time, the disrespected team, or the favorite with its back to the wall on Sunday or the team with a sense of some unique purpose, carries the Cup home. And the team that overestimates itself or preens too soon, ends up feeling the pressure. Such factors matter inordinately in the Cup for a simple reason. Distinctions in golf talent are measured in tenths of a stroke. So, psychology rules.

To prove the point, 16 of the 24 players here are ranked in the top 24 in the world. Round off their scoring averages for the year to the nearest stroke: The best is 69 while the worst is 71. That's how, on a Ryder Cup Sunday, Phil Mickelson can lose to a Phillip Price, or Tiger Woods can fall to an aging Constantino Rocca. More to the point for Americans, who suffer on Friday and Saturday in four-ball and foursomes matches, a team of Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood, neither a major championship winner, can beat a team of Woods and Mickelson.

Besides, some time in the last two years, the Europeans and Americans have mysteriously switched identities.

"This is probably, hate to say before the event starts, but this is our strongest team we've ever put together. [European captain] Ian [Woosnam] said it as well," said Colin Montgomerie, who has succeeded Seve Ballesteros as Europe's leader, clutch player and agitator of the Americans. Later, Monty surpassed himself on TV, saying, "I believe we're the best team there's ever been."

Then, just to jack up the intensity a notch, he noted that, since this was the first Ryder Cup played in Ireland: "I can't fathom losing in Ireland. We've got to win here. They are hugely expecting a victory. There's going to be a national state of mourning [otherwise]. The pressure's on."

Just two years ago, the United States was "hugely expected" to win in Michigan, and American players said their team was so deep anybody could be paired with anybody. In effect, a monkey could captain the team, which, of course, proved untrue. Now, the words have been exactly reversed, although unconsciously.

This Time, U.S. Ryder Team Has Done Its Homework (TONY DEAR, September 22, 2006, NY Sun)
Miguel de Cervantes, author of "Don Quixote," knew the value of preparation. "Forewarned, forearmed; to be prepared is half the victory," he famously said. Amelia Earhart thought it even more important — roughly 17% more. "Preparation is two-thirds of any venture," she once remarked. "Chance favors the prepared mind," thought Louis Pasteur.

If they're right, and they often were, Tom Lehman and his American team will surely win this year's Ryder Cup, which starts today at the K Club, just outside Dublin, Ireland.

For going on two years, Lehman has left precious few stones unturned in his quest to bring the little gold cup back to America. Not since 1999, when the U.S. side recovered from a 10–6 deficit after two days to win eight of the first nine singles matches on the Sunday and eventually win by a single point, has the chalice resided on this side of the Atlantic. However, if the captain's painstaking homework has anything to do with the outcome, the U.S. side is in a good position to halt a decade of poor showings for which a lack of team spirit has often been cited as the main culprit.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 22, 2006 8:27 AM

The Euros won the morning total, 2.5 to 1.5. Woods and Furyk got the US win, beating Monty and Harrington.

Posted by: ratbert at September 22, 2006 10:18 AM

My inlaws are over there for the golf. I think they're attending today's matches, before heading off to do touristy things.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at September 22, 2006 10:28 AM

The real American hero of the morning was rookie JJ Henry who, with almost no help from partner Stewart Cink, brought his team back from 3 down with 8 to go and earned the other half point against Casey and McGinley.

Posted by: jeff at September 22, 2006 10:53 AM

Read somewhere this morning that Europeans attending the match are becoming very annoyed by the many Americans there who are singing the praises of Bush and the U.S.


Posted by: erp at September 22, 2006 1:21 PM

Well erp, they'll be happy talking to my f-in-law, who's got a heavy case of bds.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at September 22, 2006 1:29 PM

Ugh, Euros come back on the final hole against Phil and DiMarco to halve the match and keep the US from closing to within 1 pt.

Down by 2 after the first day.

It's deja vu all over again.

Why do we suck at this game?

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at September 22, 2006 1:54 PM

Jim, maybe when he sees what the eurotrash is really all about, he'll keep his opinions to himself.

Posted by: erp at September 22, 2006 4:51 PM