Following the epic 2012 Ryder Cup – I can’t bear the thought of having to wait two full years until Gleneagles 2014! – we thought we would look back on the action and what was both good and bad about this year’s match between the big guns from Europe and the USA.
The Best of 2012
As all the players who have played in the Ryder Cup will testify, the biennial bout between the USA and Europe is a real pressure cooker. While these guys are well used to competing in front of thousands of fans and for bundles of cash, there is nothing that can prepare them for the Ryder Cup where the fans are boisterous and where they are playing for more than just personal glory. To be a rookie then must be quite intimidating…unless you’re Keegan Bradley! The young American took to the Ryder Cup like a duck to water, winning all three of his matches with Mickelson at his side while also injecting some passion and excitement into the watching American crowd. Only a loss to world number 1, Rory McIlroy, put a blot on his Ryder Cup scorecard.
Phil Mickelson Sportsmanship
As we all know the Ryder Cup evokes passion and patriotism like no other event in golf and from time to time players can look just about ready to start swinging for each other! With so much on the line coming down the stretch on Sunday it was a joy to see Phil “The Thrill” Mickelson applaud Justin rose as he rolled in a monster putt on 17 to hammer one of the most important nails into the USA’s Ryder Cup coffin. Phil always conducts himself impeccably on the course but in such a situation I can’t imagine myself reacting to Rose’s closing birdies with such a display of sportsmanship. Well done Phil.
Rory’s Police Escort
It would have been all too tempting for this cop who drove Rory to the course following his time zone blunder to “get lost” and rescue a point for Team USA…thankfully he whisked the world number 1 to the course with just shy of ten minutes to spare!
Irony 1 – Idiots in the crowd 0
The crowds at the Ryder Cup always play a big part in the magic and this year they were no different with ear splitting cheers and chants ringing around Medinah from start to finish. Unfortunately all sports events have to put up with a small minority of fans who, to put it bluntly, are complete morons! On the PGA Tour in particular we hear cries of “GET IN THE HOLE”, “MASHED POTATOES” and more from such people and on Singles Sunday at Medinah a few of them received a huge, ironic slap in the face!
On the par 3 2nd hole, which features water from tee to green, some of the aforementioned morons screamed “GET IN THE WATER” as Rose’s tee shot was in the air only for it to come to rest just 2 feet from the pin. Hardly sporting behaviour from the crowd but what followed was priceless! Mickelson stepped up, hit his tee shot and while it was in the air we heard the more familiar “GET IN THE HOLE” cry…only for a splash to follow as his ball sank to a watery grave. In only such fans could stick to cheering for their own team rather than jeering the opposition.
Mr Ryder Cup
Ian Poulter is quickly becoming the Seve of the modern day Ryder Cups and once again came up with the goods as a Captain’s pick. Poulter’s 4 points out of 4 was key to Europe’s challenge but Poulter’s most telling contribution was his five birdie barrage over the closing holes on Saturday. This changed the complexion of the whole event heading into the Sunday Singles and gave the rest of team Europe hope.
European Sunday Charge
While Poulter gave his team mates hope on Saturday evening the comeback was still viewed by many as an impossible task. The USA only needed 4 and a half points to win but Europe’s first 5 players all got it done to make the comeback a real possibility. Throw in a couple of late turnarounds, most notably Rose’s against Mickelson, and Bob’s your uncle, Fanny’s your aunt, Europe have completed the most dramatic Ryder Cup comeback in history…even better than the American’s in 99 because this was done on hostile ground!
Bubba the Cheerleader
Bubba is certainly the class clown of world golf and his geeing up of the crowd on the 1st tee on Friday was brilliant. Europe had already teed off so it was in no way attempt to put them off…throw in Ian Poulter joining in on the act on the Saturday and the Ryder Cup cauldron was well and truly boiling!
The Worst of 2012
Crossing the Line
As previously mentioned, a small minority of sports fans can rank among the most odious creatures on the planet and when a few too many beers have been consumed and the patriotism boils over, sledging ensues. Now there is nothing wrong with a gentle bit of banter but when it spills over to the point where things like “F**k you Seve” are yelled from members of the crowd (shouted after a Dustin Johnson drive in the Saturday Fourballs) it crosses the line. There’s no place for it in the game and perpetrators should be ejected and banned from future events.
Rory’s Lie In
Although this turned out to be quite a story thanks to the fact that Rory won his match against Keegan Bradley, had he been 10 minutes later to the course he would have sacrificed his point to the Americans. There would have been no way back from that. Rory said he checked the tee times on the golf channel and then confused Eastern Time with Central Time (an hour’s difference). Surely players are well aware of their tee times and have drivers who are responsible for getting them to the course? Either way this could have prevented the greatest day in European Ryder Cup history. I guess the luck of the Irish kicked in to save the day!
While there is little doubt that Ryder Cup Captains play an important role, they unfortunately assume too much praise when things go right and far too much blame when they don’t. After all Jack Nicklaus once said, “After we select our teams each day and hand in the piece of paper, all that’s left is to go on course and act important.” Following his decision to stick to his original game pan and rest each player for at least one session – much was made of resting the in form duo of Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley – Davis Love has now learned just how much blame can be placed on the captain when, in reality, praise should be simply handed to the Europeans for their brave fight back.
All in all however, the 2012 Ryder Cup is one that will live long in the memory due to American fireworks over the 1st couple of days followed by an astonishing European charge on Singles Sunday, the likes of which we may never see again. Roll on Gleneagles in 2014!
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