Edition 1497
20 October 2018
Edition: 1497

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Hearty performance

by Neil Connolly, in Sport · 04-10-2018 10:15:00 · 0 Comments

Watching the Ryder Cup this last weekend, was a pure masterclass in preparation. From the backroom staff, caddies, the course and of course the Captain, everything was first class.

Hearty performance

There are so many areas for discussion, it’s hard to know where to start. I had verbalised my fears surrounding this year’s encounter, convinced that the USA’s ‘Task Force’ was going to present a more prepared team, more potent performance, more team cohesion and be more successful. And yet the birth child of the ‘Gleneagles mutiny’, spearheaded by Phil Mickelson, was good for home wins, but put them outside of the States, they are not as strong as their world rankings would suggest.
Bjørn and the team set up the course magnificently. It is a venue which has been built for the big occasion, it allowed the home fans to be immersed in the action, the ‘Thunderclap’ is now part of the festivities and fits perfectly alongside the ‘whooos’ for the 1st tee practice swings. The US supporters were drowned out, hardly had a voice, which made the home team really feel comfortable.
The USA came out fighting, they won the first session
3-1, but after that gut punch, the Europeans showed what they were capable of and took the next session via a historic whitewash. The Americans have been used to getting their way, and strong arming themselves to victory over ‘rest of the world’ teams in the Presidents Cup. But Europe took their best shot, on the chin, had a smile and then hit back even harder, with a run of eight unanswered points. Shell-shocked at the battering, only the dream team and best buds of Spieth and Thomas could steady the ship, the last match out on Saturday morning.
As the contest went on it became apparent that some of the US players were only present in body, not in heart. They suddenly had three huge obstacles to overcome; the course because they are used to hitting it long with little consequence, this course had serious rough and water with pinched in fairways. Not the usual fare in the land of the brave. Teh second obstacle was the crowd, and the third a team which had fused together behind a calm, strong leader.
Our rookies didn’t behave like first timers either, Fleetwood and Rahm for example. Molinari bossed his way to five points, a clean sweep for all sessions. And Bjørn’s picks made him look like something between a genius and a clairvoyant. Which is exactly where, I believe the match swung in our favour. Our picks in Poulter, Garcia, Stenson and Casey all performed. Out of fourteen outings they won 9.5 points. Three and a half points from four, on Sunday in the singles.
In stark contrast the picks of Woods, Mickelson, DeChambeau and Finau from their twelve outings, only two points were delivered. With Woods being given a big fat zero to show for his efforts and a career record of 13 wins, 19 losses and 3 draws. That is after winning the Tour Championship last week. He just doesn’t seem to bring out the best in his partners which does lead to the question, will Tiger ever be picked again?
Mickelson is likely to be permanently sidelined with zero points for the week also, and only playing twice, really showed that his game didn’t get on the plane with him. The two talismen of US golf have made it difficult to see a future for them outside of the captaincy role.
Europe on the other hand have some dream pairings to move forward, namely Fleetwood and Molinari, Rose and Stenson, Rahm and Oleson (possibly?). Either way we have come out of this rather well and the USA are looking at their shoes searching for answers as to how did this happen again; when Poulter, world ranked 34th, can beat world number 1 Dustin Johnson and Thorbjørn Oleson, 44th in the world hammers Spieth 10th in the world, when it matters, Ryder Cup Sunday. There seems to be a continuation of questions. How on earth is Spieth 0-6 in singles matches for USA teams?
Then we come to the glittering jewels in our crown; Molinari 5-0, Garcia is now the all-time highest Ryder cup points scorer, from either team. His pick was questioned, not anymore.
Why do the USA struggle against us? Perhaps the answer is that success breeds success. Who can Captain their team who has experienced that winning feeling? Who can play on that team and create momentum? It will be 29 years since they have won on foreign soil. Since 1995 they have only won three times, to our nine.
Maybe it is a mismatch, but in our favour, because heart and team spirit are the deciding factors.

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Edition 1497
20 October 2018
Edition: 1497

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

Twitter

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