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Teeing off...

 

October 2, 2002



So the United States didn't win the Ryder Cup. No one could have missed that information. Since Sunday night, it's all I have seen, heard and read about.

On the news, sports journalists are just astonished that a European team consisting of guys most of whom nobody has heard of could beat the Americans in golf. In the papers, I have seen phrases like "How could this have happened?" and "Unknown Europeans dominate the U.S."

Don't forget about the constant criticism. Journalists are now accusing Tiger Woods and Davis Love III of not caring enough about the Ryder Cup. They are second guessing U.S. captain Curtis Strange not countering European captain Sam Torrance's decision to put his best players first in the Sunday singles matches.

The best criticism has come from the real experts here the fans. On the Golf Channel on Sunday night, fans called and e-mailed golf talk shows criticizing Strange and the rest of the American team. They're commentary was about as informed as a Jerry Springer show. I heard a comment from a disgruntled fan asking the question, "What has happened to American golf that they could lose the Ryder Cup like that?" My favorite came when another so-called fan even went as far as to question Tiger Woods' patriotism because he hasn't performed up to par in his three Ryder Cup appearances.

Are you kidding me?

Here's a quick news flash for you people, who can't understand why we didn't win the cup. We aren't supposed to win them all. I know it hurts. But we aren't going to win every Ryder Cup. In fact, we haven't even come close to winning them all. In the past nine Ryder Cups, including this year's, the European team has won six times.

It isn't that American golf is bad. On the contrary, golf in the United States has never been stronger. But just because our golf is getting better doesn't mean golf in Europe is getting worse.

A quick reminder, the game of golf was invented Scotland only a few hundred miles north of The Belfry where the Ryder Cup was held this year.

European's were playing this game before the Mayflower ever landed on Plymouth Rock. It is their game they invented it and it has a different meaning to European people than Americans. Golf is not just a sport over there, it is a way of life. It is still considered a game of gentlemen and is revered by men, women and children.

Despite that, how could the European's possibly win?

Could it be that the European's had just as good of a team as the Americans did?

Sergio Garcia is ranked number five in the world, and there aren't many players playing as well as he has over the last six months.

But it isn't just about who's playing well going into a Ryder Cup. Rather, it's about who isn't playing well going into the Ryder Cup that seems to have the most importance.

People tend to forget that players lose their game at times. And this year's team was a little different in that regard. The Ryder Cup was originally supposed to be played last year, but the event was canceled due to the tragedies of September 11th. Consequently, both teams were chosen according to last season's PGA performances, not this years.

At that time, Paul Azinger and Hal Sutton were playing some of the best golf of their lives. Coming into Ryder Cup week, they both publicly admitted that they had been really struggling with their games over the last six months. Sutton has slipped from number ten in the world rankings to number 127 in less than a year.

Davis Love III has been plagued by injuries all summer, and David Duval has been fighting his swing for almost two full years.

I don't believe that the team the American's sent to the Belfry was the team needed to beat the Europeans.

If they had used this year's performances as qualifications, it would have been a completely different U.S. squad. Justin Leonard who has been playing lights out golf would have qualified, along with PGA champion Rich Beem and red hot Fred Funk.

The European team would have remained entirely the same, which means most of their players were playing very well coming into this event.

Nothing bothers me more than the criticism about Woods and Love not caring. No matter what people think all of these players are super competitive. Unlike most people who compete for fun, they compete as a way of life.

Woods and Love wanted to win as badly as anybody else out there. It's in their nature to care. To question whether or not a man loves his country based on how he performs on a golf course is insane.

Tiger had 38 birdies in 90 holes of golf. That might not be patriotic, but how many people on this planet can do that?

The simple fact is the European's had a better team for the Ryder Cup. Not better individuals. That isn't what the Ryder Cup is about. They had a better team and they played better golf.

To simplify it more, they used less strokes to put a little white ball in a hole then the American's did.

The Unites States team represented their country with pride and passion. They gave it everything they had and that is all that we can ask. The rest is just golf.

 

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