Repeat after me, golf fans: “There are no magic Captains. There are no magic pairings.”
No. Magic. Captains.
It’s funny how nobody wanted to write the following headline: “Heavily favored Europeans, win comfortably. As expected…”
But that’s exactly what happened. In fact not only did 16.5-11.5 “sound about right” to me before these matches began – we were down three very good auto-qualifiers due to injury and (ahem) “leave of absence” – but for a few “bad beat” matches that took a half point or full point off our side would have made it tighter than your prom night tuxedo from high school.
But the matches fell where they did, so the better team won, and…. NOW WHAT IN THE HELL IS EVERYBODY ALL WORKED UP ABOUT… NOW???
Oh, yeah. Phil.
“Pod-boy.” Got it. Glad he remembers the glory of 2008. As if that matters now.
Credit Tom Watson for taking Phil’s Monday Morning Quarterbacking on the dais in stride – especially since he couldn’t even wait until the morning to deliver it. But what Watson should have said is this: “I’m only here because you guys choked last time.”
No truer statement could have been made, and it would have reminded the players why there is so much noise right now. Had the Yanks simply not choked at Medinah (or if we weren’t so quick to provide police escorts to Euro Teamers who can’t tell time) then we’d be in a pretty stable “home and home” mode of winners for the past 8 years.
But no. Last year’s choke DEMANDED ACTION from those who “care!”
So they reached back to get that “Magic Captain” to get the job done. It was a sub-prime idea at best, and events of the week proved that truth in many ways at Gleneagles. Too old, too aloof, too unprepared for on-the-fly adjustments… and yeah… maybe too un-responsive to player input.
But let’s get back to Phil for a moment, shall we? When has THIS GUY ever been “Mr. Clutch” at the Ryder Cup? The only Phil highlights I’ve seen for 10 years, involve him doffing his hat and shaking hands with winning Euros, his disheveled mop of vain anti-baldness-hair flopping around like a tribute to Donald Trump.
Last year at Medinah, Phil was getting buried by Justin Rose bombs, and could only offer up a goofy-faced grin and a “thumbs up.” He lost on Sunday. It wasn’t the Captain’s fault. And his buddy Keegan couldn’t even beat a guy who showed up 5 mins before his tee time. Again: not on the Captain.
This is the same guy who pulled out of the FedEx Cup playoffs this month after eating dinner at Cherry Hills, because he wasn’t going to finish high enough to make the Final at East Lake. All of the golf fans in the Rockies who haven’t seen Phil since the days of The International and had bought tickets for the weekend: “Sorry, suckers.”
This is the same guy who once bitched about the FedEx Cup first prize of $10 million being a mere … sniff… annuity. Sure, the Tour eventually caved, fixing a non-existent problem for Phil. He never won it.
So lets walk backward through the Ryder Cup years, skipping last year’s debacle since it’s already been covered here.
The 2010 Ryder Cup at Wales was a very respectable 14.5-13.5 nailbiter. The USA didn’t need the “pod system” that time. They needed a better passcode on Tiger’s cell phone that year, and rainsuits that didn’t leak. Hunter Mahan’s chili-dip didn’t help either.
Of course, it would have also helped if our BEST PLAYER that year – World #2 Phil Mickelson, ever heard of him? – managed to score a mere 1/2 point in partners play.
Phil lost all three of those, 3&2, 3&2, and 2&1. At least he beat the world’s #42, rookie Peter Hansen in singles.
In 2006, Mickelson was a complete FISH at the Ryder Cup at the K-Club, looking at least 30 pounds overweight. He played all five sessions. Horribly. He was 0-4-1.
His memories of 2008 are certainly not what I recall, nor what the match results sheet show. At Valhallah, the completely energized, fully bought-in and pod-bonded Mickelson played all 5 sessions.
He won one match. And it wasn’t even in singles.
With Tiger at home nursing injuries, guess who was our BEST player that year? Right.
To have Phil Mickelson complain about tactical errors which might have cost the US the cup, would be like Francesco Schettino blaming Apple Maps for bad directions.
Besides, aren’t we talking about the same Phil Mickelson who used the Ryder Cup in 2004 to showcase his new Calloway contract with un-tested new clubs, and went off-property for a Tuesday practice round at a course where exactly ZERO points would be available that week?
Oh. Same guy? Thought so.
It’s a shame – and a handicap to the US – that two guys who SHOULD be monsters in this event are probably liabilities. Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson are dominant-long, go-for-broke, birdie and eagle machines. Perfect for match play, right?
Well, too bad one is allegedly a coke-head and a tour homewrecker. The other is maybe the most mentally fragile 2-time major winner ever. A guy who declares himself out for the US Open on Tuesday because he doesn’t like the course, or a helpless victim of rain on his clubface at the PGA.
We’re just gonna have to manage those two guys in the Ryder Cup going forward the best we can. Maybe play ’em together and write off the point.
Well, the good news is, Phil’s Ryder Cup days are numbered. The new breed is coming, and not a moment too soon – Speith, Fowler, Reid, Horschel and others.
Let’s just not over-react to Gleneagles, okay? I’ve got the formula for winning this event, and I’ll even give it away for free.
1. Get better players.
2. Play guys who won’t quit.
You are welcome, PGA of America. My shirt size is an XL.