September 28, 2008
TEAM USA WINS...and I called it weeks ago...
Well, the US regained the Ryder Cup and they did it without the likes of "you-know-who." This thrills me no end. No, not the win, but they did it without "him".
You know who I am talking about.
In the aftermath, as usual, all the Monday morning armchair generals worldwide were passing judgment on Nick Faldo and the European press attacked him without mercy. While I feel that Faldo made two mistakes in leaving both Monty and Darren Clarke off the team, I also feel that the press is being very unfair to him.
First of all, this was not the US Team of the past. I said a thousand times that there are a lot of great young players just waiting to make their mark once you-know-who is out of the picture and they did. In fact, they made an impact that shook the golf world.
Look, the only way anyone was gonna stop Anthony Kim was if the blimp fell on him. This kid was on fire during the entire Cup and wanted to prove to the world that he had a lot of game. Well, he certainly did just that by beating the hell out of Sergio Garcia who was previously unbeaten in singles matches.
Is Kim the next "you-know-who"?
Itís a possibility, but even he will tell you that he not there just yet. Kim has many attributes but he remains pretty much a realist. Time will tell.
Boo Weekley was also something of a nightmare for the European side to deal with. Cries of "Boo S. A." rang through the trees every time he hit a shot. If Kim is the next "you-know-who", then Boo is undoubtedly the next John Daly in regards to crowd favourite.
By the way, I am taking great delight in the fact that I was one of the first columnists to say publicly that "you-know-who" hurt the team more than helped it and without him Team USA stood a better chance of winning.
Now, other columnists are saying it. Better late than never I guess.
All in all, Azinger put together a great team. Not one which just had great game, but more importantly, one which had fun together. That was taking a page out of Team Europeís playbook for sure. Boo Weekley riding his driver like a hobby horse ala "Happy Gilmore" was classic and demonstrated the enthusiasm on the team as opposed to years past.
Now, one of the reasons I felt the press was unfair to Faldo was that Team Europe didnít "lose" the Ryder Cup, Team USA won it. Thereís a huge difference in the way of looking at it.
Robert Karsson and Justin Rose played well in their demolition of Justin Leonard and Phil Mickelson respectively.
Paul Casey was hanging in there until Hunter Mahan dropped in a 60-foot bomb for birdie on the 17th hole to move ahead. Casey held firm and Mahan could only walk away with half a point.
Yet, I say the biggest error in judgement was leaving Monty and Clarke off the team for the simple reason that these two guys are rocks. Monty won five Cups with a record in singles of 6-0-2. Clarke won four Cups and had a four-ball record of 6-2-1. These guys donít break under Ryder Cup pressure and serve as an inspiration to the rest of the team.
Ian Poulter was a superb captainís pick as he wound up being the highest scoring player on either team, but the other pick, Paul Casey was a disaster and ended up going 0-1-2.
In a nutshell, Team USA won because it replaced most of the old blood with young kids who had no emotional baggage to carry and, like Team Europe, were thrilled to be out there.
Perhaps, we are seeing a new chapter being written in the PGA Tour. I have a feeling that players like Boo Weekley, Anthony Kim and the like will bring an entirely new attitude to the game. John Daly started it, but I think this new generation will show that golf can be fun and serious all at the same time without going off the deep end.
Now, if "you-know-who" would content himself with designing golf courses instead of returning to the Tour, weíll see this transition all that much fasterÖ