And who can blame them.
I read, listened and watched with interest as players (current and former), captains (former), fans and so called experts, bloviated and opined about the disastrous effects and far-reaching consequences of America losing the Ryder Cup this year. I am both intrigued and a little saddened by it all.
Yes Team USA lost and the reaction and race to blame was both swift and intense… but wait, weren’t they predicted to lose by many of the same people leading the hue and cry after the inevitable? Team Europe was stronger in spirit and on paper even before the stripes lost its stars Tiger, DJ and Duf. The surprise to me was that the Americans got out of the gate looking like they were going to put up one heck of a fight.
On the very first morning Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth were surprisingly spectacular and Ian Poulter was positively ineffective. Still, had Jimmy Walker not chipped in late during his and Rickie Fowler’s halved match with Thomas Bjorn and Martin Kaymer AND Keegan Bradley not hit the shot of his weekend on the par 5 16th leading to a 1 up upset over Garcia and McIlroy, all of those eyes, bleary from watching commercial after commercial with a few golf shots mixed in, could have moved on with their lives secure in the knowledge that this was going to be the blowout everyone, save for family members and die hards, expected. Instead good ol’ Team USA gave them all false hope, in the form of a 2.5 to 1.5 four balls lead, that this year might be different. The fact is it was never going to be.
Should Captain Tom Watson have played Spieth and Reed again that afternoon? Probably. Should he have benched Keegan and Phil on Saturday? Maybe not in the morning four balls matches but certainly in the afternoon foursomes, (a discipline in which the two got shellacked on Friday afternoon). But no matter the machinations, this team was not going to win the Ryder Cup. So let’s stop blaming the “curmudgeonly” captain or the “petulant” prima donna. Let’s stop talking “pods” and “resets” and “task forces” and “overhauls to the system”. In my opinion what’s wrong with Team USA in the Ryder Cup is that to many American players the year-after-year burden of being involved in “us against them”, made for TV, arm wrestling tussles has drained them of their “give a damn”.
The Ryder Cup was established in 1927 as a golf match between the United States and Great Britain and Ireland. Fifty years later Jack Nicklaus suggested that GB & I invite the rest of Europe to join its team to make the matches more competitive. At the time, Team USA’s record was 18-3-1. The U.S won again in 1979, ’81 and ’83 but since then Europe has gone 9-4-1. Bottom line is THIS THING MATTERS to Team Europe. If the International Team could ever win another President’s Cup (1998 was the last and only outright International win) that competition would matter to them too. The simple fact is that it has all become too much for the American players who rightly put their passion, focus and attention toward winning things that DO MATTER to them, namely MAJORS.
There is not only too much golf on the schedule every year, there is simply too much golf trying to compete, in importance, with the major championships. And in 2016, for good measure, we add golf in the Olympic Games every four years. In addition to glut, many European players live and most play in America. In addition to that “opponents” every year or two in international “pillow fights” are teammates corporately. It all adds up to very little, if any, animosity in the game anymore.
What all of the pundits, experts, and opinion givers are not mentioning in this equation is the adverse affect the PGA TOUR created President’s Cup, which is played in Ryder Cup off years, plays. I think it matters because it means that almost all of the guys who make up Team USA playing Europe in the even years now have to manufacture the enthusiasm to play against something called “The International Team” in the odd ones. Odd indeed. By the way, they’ve played 10 President’s Cups and the USA is 8-1-1.
So all the talk post 2014 Ryder Cup is “How do we fix it?” and my contention is, in the current climate, we can’t. Why does it always have to be “US” against “THEM”? In one competition we seem to be outsmarted, outmanned, outmatched and outmaneuvered. In that exhausted state “our” team has to turn around and play in another head to “heads” competition and as Adam Scott stays great, Jason Day, Graham DeLaet and Hideki Matsuyama get great and Camillo Villegas, Geoff Ogilvy and Tim Clark get completely back to form, how long before the U.S. dominance in that one is also a thing of the past? Tennis saw top players decide not to play for their country in the Davis Cup and it’s my contention that that phenomenon is right around the corner in golf. It’s just too much too ask.
Before those things happen, let’s do this… Let’s stop getting our undies in a bunch about this past Ryder Cup or the next one. Dismantle the “task force” while there is still time and put an end to The President’s Cup altogether. The solution is to make the bold move and include the entire golf world in the Ryder Cup starting in 2016. You pick the two teams. Give Europe Africa and Asia and the USA can add Canada, Mexico, South America, Australia and New Zealand. Like I said mix and match them any way you want but have two international teams and play the thing every other year. Try that for a few years and so what happens, in the meantime LET IT GO!
And another thing… shouldn’t the penalty in football be “catch interference” instead of “pass interference”?