The 2012 Ryder Cup: A Look Back

Wow! Going into this recent Ryder Cup Matches I felt the Europeans would retain Samuel Ryder’s talisman but not in the way it unfolded. Even though the result was what I anticipated, it happened in inverse fashion.

As we know, after the first two days of pairs play (two rounds of foursomes and two of four-ball) it was the American side, not the European dozen that were up in points, 10-6. Many felt as play concluded on Saturday with the Yanks up by four points, going into the singles phase of the battle, that it was a coast-to-the-finish-line scenario that would unfold on the last day. The Americans were more accustomed to playing for themselves in individual style and would feel the wind at their backs and extend the lead for a comfortable win and the recapture of the cup.

I was in Seattle conducting a curling camp on the weekend and as a result had to rely on snippets of information from a variety of sources to remain current with the goings on in the northern suburb of Chicago, IL known as Medinah.

As a coach, I was much more interested in the reaction of the captains at that juncture than I was the players’. I like to imagine what I would say in similar circumstances and I felt that Captain Love had a more difficult challenge on his hands than did Captain Olazabal. Why? The pressure was on the U.S. side, not on the Europeans’. The Euros had nothing to lose as they entered singles play. They were down by a sizable margin so who cares if the loss is by 1/2 point or several. The size of the “L” does not change! I like to think that I’d tell my 12 athletes to “fire at every pin”! Let the Americans play “not to lose”. We’ll “play to win”!
From everything I’ve heard post Ryder Cup, that’s precisely what the likeable Spaniard did. I think he felt that the Americans just might be gazing at the finish line, the outcome of the matches, always a risky if not down right fatal thing to do so he had his charges concentrate on the process to perform to the best of their ability.

It’s also said that, “Under pressure, one sinks to the level of one’s preparation”. If indeed that were the case, then that too sheds a damning light on the Americans because they were clearly, in my mind, the team that was under greater pressure and playing “at home” only accentuated that pressure! And, of course, the home town media can be counted on to provide all the locker room bulletin board print material the opposition needs to increase their inspiration to perform well. One might say that it was a “perfect storm”. All the ingredients for a European win and an American loss were in place. Add some trust, support & discipline on the European side, stir and you have the final result.

Next stop for the Ryder Cup Matches will be at Gleneagles in Scotland in 2014. If I were the Americans, between now and then, I’d find out how to stop the bleeding. Then they can concentrate on reviving the patient.

Parting Thoughts
 I don’t know why on the Friday and Saturday of the Ryder Cup, all 12 members of each side don’t play as they do on Sunday. It would require six matches each morning and afternoon of those days which may prove logistically somewhat challenging. If that were the case, start three matches on the 1st tee and three on the 10th tee. That way there would be plenty of time to get the three matches at each of the start locations off with time to spare. Also, fans would know their favourite player(s) will be playing all the time. Lastly, it would spread out the gallery to the benefit of all the patrons.
All matches will be played to conclusion. No halved matches! All putts must go into the hole. No conceded putts.
Lastly, no 14/14 win for the side currently holding the cup. If it’s 14/14 at the conclusion of singles play, each side selects a player. They go to a designated tee with the first hole won winning the Ryder Cup for his side!
Or, you can stick with the current format for no other reason than, “We’ve always done it that way!”