How About a Golf Match Instead of a Political Debate?
Call me a traitor if you like, but I thought it was a great Ryder Cup. Sure, it would have been better if the Americans had won, but has there ever been a more compelling golf event?
There were innumerable story lines to follow, certainly enough for the book that somebody is already writing. Ian Poulter, he of the saucer eyes, with five closing birdies Saturday afternoon to keep flickering Euro hope alive; Rory, hurtling from his car 11 minutes before his Sunday tee time; Jim Furyk's shaky nerves betraying him again; Keegan Bradley, a twitching advertisement for Ritalin. Tiger who?
I confess I've never been a big fan of Phil. His sometimes-goofy demeanor and too-heroic shot selections have betrayed him too often; he's 42, he should have learned better by now.
But like St. Augustine, I'm a late convert. More than anyone else, he caught the spirit of what the Ryder Cup ought to be.
He clearly had more fun than anybody at Medinah when partnered with the even goofier Bradley, and his effervescent sportsmanship as he watched Justin Rose birdie the last two holes to beat him on Sunday was an example for everyone, everywhere, and not just on the golf course.
There will be plenty of second-guessing of captain Davis Love's various tactics, but when was a loser ever not second-guessed? I think you can safely assume that everybody on both teams did the best he could at the time, and let it go at that. Who knows, maybe Seve really was directing things; maybe Europe couldn't lose.
It seems a bit odd that this supposedly intercontinental rivalry remains so heated when most members of the European team play the PGA tour and have homes here in the United States, but somehow that is ignored by all concerned. The formula works: Throw a bunch of great golfers together, hype it for two years, encourage screaming fans to wear silly costumes, sell a lot of beer, and it becomes theater for 500 million people.
I suspect all this is a bit beyond what Sam Ryder had in mind when he ordered up the cup, but you'd have to think he would be pleased. Despite all the hollering and hullabaloo, the Ryder Cup remains at heart a friendly competition. The players don't fight; the fans don't riot. Everybody goes home and begins planning for the next one. If only the rest of life were so orderly, so civilized and exciting.
I missed scarcely a shot for three days, not because I'm totally insanely dedicated to watching golf on TV (well, not totally), but because I'm on injured reserve at the moment, and can't play. I have to say the single focus and isolation were quite pleasant. I paid no attention to news (I understand there's an election coming up), apart from a few phone calls nobody bothered me, and even my wife was completely involved by Sunday afternoon.
Now it's Monday as I write this, and life is intruding once again. By the time you read this, there will have been a presidential debate. It will not have been nearly as exciting as the Ryder Cup, nor as friendly. It may not even have been as important; after all, there was a clear result in Chicago.
Say, there's an idea. There are plenty of golfers (more or less) in the capital. How about choosing up teams and having a golf match to decide who gets to run the country? Oh, the players would probably have fist fights and the fans would probably riot, but we're about there now anyway.
Would Mitt Romney birdie the last five holes? Would Joe Biden make his tee time? Would Barack Obama play the back nine? Would anybody show up to watch? I'll stick with the Ryder Cup.
Fred Wolferman lives in Southern Pines. Contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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