JIM DAVIS: Random Ryder Cup Thoughts
As I sit down to write this, the United States Ryder Cup team has once again been sent scurrying back across the pond by a team of overachieving Europeans who didn't have the common sense to see that they couldn't possibly beat the Americans again. Amid the usual flurry of media speculations and post mortems, our team, bloody and bowed, has boarded their first class flights and private jets to return to more friendly shores.
Nobody asked me, but I feel compelled to insert my two cents about our team and why we go to the well every two years and come up empty.
First, there's what I call the "Steinbrenner Syndrome." New York Yankees owner, George Steinbrenner used to suffer from this malady, but in recent years he's found the key to overcoming it. The "Steinbrenner Syndrome" means that you have assembled a group of superstars, but you have no team. In recent years, Steinbrenner has come to understand the value of intangibles like chemistry, camaraderie, and respect among teammates.
It seems to be difficult for our American golfers to suppress their superstar egos for the greater good of the team. This is not a conscious thing, but you can see the difference in the way the Europeans act around other team members. Laughs, hugs, and genuine warmth toward each other are hallmarks of the European team.
Not that the Americans don't get along, but it's tough for these stars to try to beat each other's brains out for two years and then get all kissy-kissy when fate makes them teammates for a few days. But if the Europeans can do it, we can too. It's a matter of attitude, and we have two years to change it.
Random thoughts and opinions:
Putting -- Some days the putts fall, and some days they don't, but the Europeans' putts found their way to the hole far more often than the Americans'. The crowning touch was a putt by Darren Clarke on Sunday that rammed into the heart of the hole from over 100 feet. Our guys missed way too many 10-footers, and when you putt like that, you lose.
Capt. Tom Lehman -- A genuinely nice man who spent the whole week in denial. He was like a skier who sees an avalanche bearing down on him and tries to ignore it, hoping it will stop by itself.
Tiger Woods -- He's still the best individual player in the world, but when he's playing with a teammate, he seems distracted. He got his concentration back on Sunday in his individual match, which he won handily.
Phil Mickelson -- He's gotten rid of the jinx of the un-won major, but now he has the Ryder Cup monkey on his back. His drives were all over the place, his approach shots were nowhere near the hole, and he putted poorly. That's a recipe for disaster.
David Toms and Chris DiMarco -- As disappointing as Phil.
Jim Furyk -- He has trouble closing the deal. He missed a short putt at the U. S. Open that would have tied him for that championship. His crucial second shot on number 18 in Friday's foursome found water, as he and Tiger lost their match.
Stuart Cink -- My hero. He dismembered Sergio Garcia on Sunday, which should have given our team a much-needed lift, but didn't.
Scott Verplank -- Probably should have played more than twice.
Zach Johnson -- An American birdie machine in Saturday's Four-ball.
Colin Montgomerie -- The heart of the European team.
Darren Clarke -- If Montgomerie is his team's heart, Clarke is its soul.
Paul Casey -- May become the British Tiger. He's that good.
Sergio Garcia and Jose Maria Olazabal --They best exemplify the camaraderie that exists among members of the European team.
Excuse me, but I have to go now. I'm starting to get depressed again, and I've got only two years to get over it.
Jim Davis may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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