Ryder Cup 2008 Final Thoughts

A few thoughts about the 2008 Ryder Cup, in no particular order.

I am naturally glad to see the Ryder Cup return to the United States—not just for jingoistic reasons (though there is a great deal of that)—but also because golf benefits when such events are competitive. In an ideal world, the Cup would change hands every two years, with the Euros winning on their home turf, and the US winning on its.

Paul Azinger should be proud. He made some solid Captain’s picks, and they came through for him. In particular, Hunter Mahan and JB Holmes really shined. Mahan lead all American players with 3.5 points, and Holmes tied several others for second with 2.5.

Steve Stricker was the weak link, getting just half a point in three matches. I think he might have been a good pick LAST year, when he was riding a hot streak. I think I would have gone with Rocco Mediate instead. He’s a real scrappy player, as illustrated by his US Open performance.

I’m really glad for Kenny Perry. He laid it all on the line this year to make the team, taking a great deal of criticism for skipping majors. But his goal was to cap his career with a Ryder Cup victory in his home state. He got his wish.

Kenny strikes me as one of the good guys on tour. That he has remained in Kentucky, eschewing the typical golf millionaire trappings in Florida or Arizona speaks volumes. One of these days, I’m going to drive down and play the course that he built for his hometown.

Anthony Kim is going to be a real star. But I think I’m going to get tired of him very quickly. Those AK belt buckles are obnoxious. And his goal of becoming known as “the baddest man on the planet” doesn’t give me any hope.

Maybe he’ll settle down as he gets older. Otherwise, he could become America’s Sergio Garcia—hopefully minus the cup spitting.

Booooo. Does anything else need be said?

I will add something else. I love it when he answers the television interviewers with “Yes Sir” and “No Sir.” I’ve read several times that Sam Snead cultivated the “hick” image for his benefit. I don’t think Boo is cultivating anything. He is what he is.

On the European side, the big story has to be the disappointing performances of Harrington, Garcia and Jiminez. Garcia has built a reputation as a Ryder Cup star. You wouldn’t know it from this year’s performance.

Padraig Harrington, I’ve heard had a bad neck. If that’s so, he has an excuse. But perhaps he should have taken a medical leave like Luke Donald. Surely a healthy Monty would have fared better than a gimpy Harrington.

Speaking of Luke Donald, he was very much needed. And I think that Johnny Miller was right when he said that the European team also needed Monty. And Darren Clarke. And Olazabal.

Ian Poulter clearly was the star of the European team. Faldo made an excellent choice there.

If I’m behind going into the last day, I lead with my best, and hottest players. Garcia going first was a good idea, given his history. But I would have had Poulter second. You’ve got to do something to try to take the crowd out of it, and a crushing victory by Poulter would have done the trick.

I thought it a bit of an oversight when the announcers kept saying that the Ryder Cup had the world’s best players. Not quite so. The event doesn’t include such stalwarts as Vijay Singh, Mike Weir, Ernie Els, Rory Sabbatini, Geoff Ogilvy, Aaron Baddeley, etc.

I love the format of the Ryder Cup. It is just so much more interesting than run-of-the-mill PGA tour events. I really think that the PGA Tour should look into doing some events in a match play – team play format. To help ensure that the best players are still there on the weekend, they could use a round robin, or double elimination format.

The President’s Cup is next year at Harding Park in San Francisco. I look forward to it.

Does the Nationwide Tour have a similar event?

Once again, the American crowds were wildly enthusiastic. And once again, the European team resented it. If they want to continue playing the Cup, they’re just going to have to get used to it. We’re just not as sophisticated or cosmopolitan as the Europeans. smile None of that post-modern, deconstructionist stuff for us here in Middle America. We love out country and love to see our representatives do well.

Just a thought. Do the fans at European soccer matches sit quietly and appreciate the efforts of the opposing team, not saying a word for fear of offending someone’s sensibilities?

In a perverse way, I’m glad the American fans were raucous. Now the Euros can stop whining about Brookline and focus on whining about Valhalla. The whole Brookline thing had gotten old about six months after that event was over.

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4 thoughts on “Ryder Cup 2008 Final Thoughts”

  1. Amazing Ryder Cup and in the end the best team won.. (am much as is pains me to say). Faldo made some bad choices over the three days but in the end the USA were superior on the greens and that won you the match!

    I think the crowds are awesome and I cannot wait till the Celtic Manor 2010 for some payback.

    On a sour note tho… you say the crowds were ‘wildly enthusiastic’ but some of the abuse that was directed towards the Europeans, especially Westwood was shocking and really needs to be stamped out if this is to remain the greatest tournament in golf!

    Reply
  2. Nice article. In this era of politically charged discussion, an event like the Ryder Cup that does emphasize competition between America and another region, is at risk of getting tainted by political influence. I don’t think anybody feels that Americans are unsophisticated, at least I don’t. If I somehow mistakenly implied that, I apologize. I have many, many American fans and married one! I just fear the danger of the Ryder Cup becoming an event that caters to the “extreme sport” fan. Steel cages around the fairways are not a good thing, in my mind.

    I agree with Rolfing that the players are paid well enough to put up with occasional heckling, and that the problems were caused by a minority. But, it is something that should not be ignored. Look at how the comments on TV defended the players right to play uninterrupted when Phl was distracted by a photographer.

    Home field should be an advantage, but I feel the event should not digress into having the visiting team play under such conditions their ability to play is degraded every forth year. And I just hope that it doesn’t happen next time at the Cup that an American player pumps up the crowd with his “Uncle Sam” outfit. Over-promoting the “we vs they” may be good for ratings, but bad for the game. And, I hope that “they” don’t make Lee into another Monty. Or that the Europeans stereotype Americans as unsophisticated during the matches in Wales.

    I can’t really comment on the behavior of Soccer fans, but you and I do know that in golf, we hit the ball in relative silence and fans are allowed very close to the players. Yelling and screaming at players who are standing right in front of the fans is something I never see on TV in soccer. Fans are behind wire fences, at least in the games I see on tv.

    Without American participation, the Ryder Cup is meaningless. Had Europe won this year, the Ryder Cup was in danger of being relegated to that group of competitions they (and I) ignore, like soccer. I hope that doesn’t make me unsophisticated. smile

    Reply
  3. I couldn’t tell from the television, but it looked to me like the crowds were quiet when a player was making a shot. Someone who was there could set me right on that one.

    Wayne … I’m a fan of your posts. So you have one American fan. And we can be unsophisticated together smile

    Reply

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