Archive for September, 2008

Reaction to the US Ryder Cup victory

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

As players and traveling spectators leave the Louisville area, many commentators all over the world are weighing in with their views and perspectives on what has just unfolded at the 37th Ryder Cup Matches. Here’s a brief sample of what the press has to offer:

The Europeans had held the upper hand over their opponents with regard to team unity and a relaxed but committed approach, plus the ability to hole birdie putts when they matter most.

The above observation is valid but is also the perfect description of the US team over this weekend. As always, it really does come down to who holes the most key puts.

  • The LA Times also develops this ‘resuscitation’ theme and highlights the key reason for Europe’s defeat:

The most important reason why Europe lost was because its best players were borderline miserable — exactly what has happened to the U.S. in recent years.
Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood are Europe’s Big Three, but they won no matches in three days, lost seven of them and halved five others.

  • Sporting Life reports on a key Azinger insight and one of the suggested reasons why the Americans worked so well together:

“You know, we just decided to come together in small groups, that was it. Beyond that, I don’t know what else to tell you.

“We put four guys together in practice rounds and they played together every day, and they were the four guys who stayed together the whole week and they were never going to come out of their little group. That’s the way I did it.

“It was about how to take small groups and just to break them up.”

While Azinger takes a lot of credit for the famous victory, Nick Faldo has been getting a lot of stick from the European press.  Some of the more painful criticisms are selected here:

    If Faldo was an ice cream, he’d lick himself.

    • The Times was quite clinical in its destruction of Faldo’s captaincy

    Faldo’s thin skin, the need to have his sports shrink by his side even out on the course and his grating sense of humour had confirmed what we knew all along, which is that he is no natural leader. But what we had not expected was that a man who had dedicated himself so much to this job would make such a colossal strategic mistake –echoing Curtis Strange’s blunder in 2002 in sending Tiger Woods out last and leaving the world’s best player stranded.

    Witches were given a fairer hearing in medieval Europe than that coming Faldo’s way in the Valhalla postmortem. He is about to pay the price of a lifetime of self serving, of devotion to the cult of the individual.

    • Former Ryder Cup player, Christy O’Connor Jnr was very critical of Faldo on Irish radio, suggesting that Faldo had erred by not having more vice-captains around the course providing support to his players. He described the presence of Faldo’s son as ‘ridiculous’ and compared the lack of togetherness of the European team to the unity of the US team

    It certainly is interesting how we rush to create stories and explanations for the final score in a complicated golf competition, especially when a few putts holed or missed either way could have resulted in a different outcome!

    The US wins the Ryder Cup!

    Sunday, September 21st, 2008

    A nine-year wait for US golf has come to an end. In an unforgettable final session, the US team has won the Ryder Cup for the first time in the 21st century!

    The scene for this much-enjoyed victory was set impressively by young Anthony Kim who faced down the challenge of Sergio Garcia in the opening match. His success enlivened the crowd and sent a positive wave of energy down through the field, inspiring locals Kenny Perry & JB Holmes to win their games. Victories for the man-of-the-week Boo Weekley and finally, Jim Furyk, clinched the trophy.

    Congratulations to the US team!!

    Sunday Singles matches

    Sunday, September 21st, 2008

    The US team needs at least 5.5 points to win the Ryder Cup for the first time since 1999. They have twelve opportunities to win points today in the singles matches. The captains have selected their line-ups as follows (Valhalla tee-off time):

    1203 Anthony Kim v Sergio Garcia

    1214 Hunter Mahan v Paul Casey

    1225 Justin Leonard v Robert Karlsson

    1236 Phil Mickelson v Justin Rose

    1247 Kenny Perry v Henrik Stenson

    1258 Boo Weekley v Oliver Wilson

    1309 JB Holmes v Soren Hansen

    1320 Jim Furyk v Miguel Angel Jimenez

    1331 Stewart Cink v Graeme McDowell

    1342 Steve Stricker v Ian Poulter

    1353 Ben Curtis v Lee Westwood

    1404 Chad Campbell v Padraig Harrington

    A two point US lead at the end of Day 2

    Sunday, September 21st, 2008

    The US team holds a 9-7 lead going into the Sunday Singles at the 2008 Ryder Cup. The Saturday fourball matches were a close affair with three of the four matches decided on the 18th green. Some difficult putts were made, others were missed and when the dust settled, the spoils were evenly shared – two points a piece.

    Saturday Fourball Results:

    Weekley/Holmes beat Westwood/Hansen by 2&1

    Curtis/Stricker vs Garcia/Casey – match halved

    Perry/Furyk lost to McDowell/Poulter by 1 hole

    Mickelson/Mahan vs Stenson/Karlsson – match halved

    The Europeans close the gap

    Saturday, September 20th, 2008

    Following Saturday’s foursome matches, the US team now holds a 7-5 lead. The morning session was remarkable for the manner in which three of the four matches were so one-sided on the front nine – the English pair of Rose & Poulter raced into a 5-hole lead while both the Mickelson/Kim and Furyk/Perry combinations were 4-up. However, all leads were to be challenged by their opponents, with Mickelson & Kim fading dramatically and eventually losing to Wilson & Stenson.

    Saturday foursome results:

    Cink/Campbell lost to Poulter/Rose by 4&3

    Leonard/Mahan v Jimenez/McDowell – match halved

    Mickelson/Kim lost to Stenson/Wilson by 2&1

    Furyk/Perry beat Harrington/Karlsson by 3&1

    Day 2 Foursome Matches

    Saturday, September 20th, 2008

    With the US team holding a significant three-point lead, Paul Azinger has confidently sent out the exact same line-up for Saturday’s foursomes. If his team returns three points, as they did on Friday, then Europe are staring defeat right in the face.

    Nick Faldo has really shaken up his selection, bringing in the idle man of Day 1, Oliver Wilson, but most surprisingly has dropped Garcia & Westwood (for the first time in their respective careers).

    Saturday’s Foursome Matches (Local Valhalla time):

    8.05 Stewart Cink and Chad Campbell v Ian Poulter and Justin Rose

    8.20 Justin Leonard and Hunter Mahan v Miguel Angel Jimenez and Graeme McDowell

    8.35 Phil Mickelson and Anthony Kim v Henrik Stenson and Oliver Wilson

    8.50 Jim Furyk and Kenny Perry v Padraig Harrington and Robert Karlsson

    What it says in the papers

    Saturday, September 20th, 2008

    With the sun yet to rise on Valhalla on Day 2 of the 2008 Ryder Cup, here is a selection of press analysis on the exciting happenings of Day 1 and some thoughts on what is to come on Day 2

    • The Louisville Courier-Journal accurately captures the essence of Day 1 with their Pumped-up jump start headline.

    Referring to the intensity of the crowd, Kim said: “It feels like I’m playing for the Lakers, and it’s the championship against the Celtics. It’s amazing. It’s a dream come true to be out here, and the fans in Kentucky are tremendous. This was a great day.”

    • Despite sinking some heroic putts, Europe’s #1 player Padraig Harrington only managed to return a half-point from his two outings. The Irish Independent focuses on how things didn’t work out on the 18th green.

    The script and recent history insisted Harrington’s putt must drop, giving European fans in the massive 40,000- strong gallery the opportunity to cheer one of the Ryder Cup’s greatest escapes … yet golf balls don’t follow any script. They merely go where they’re hit and Harrington’s Titleist rolled a good three feet past the hole on the high side.

    • One of the heroes of Day 1 was Boooooo Weekley. As the afternoon progressed, every single movement that Boo made was greeted by huge roars of “Booooooooooo!!” from his adoring fans. At times, Boo resembled an orchestral conductor as he waved encouragement to the crowd. This apparently didn’t go down too well with some of the Europeans, as reported by the New York Post.

    “You walk a fine line when you start doing that sort of thing – between using the crowd to your advantage when you’re at home, which you do by playing good golf, which they were doing – and going over the line where you take it too far,” Westwood said.

    • The Telegraph ponders the surprise absence of Westwood and Garcia from the Saturday foursomes. Only time will tell if this gamble by Nick Faldo is inspired or merely an act of desperation. Azinger’s reaction reveals a lot.

    Opposite number Paul Azinger was in the middle of a press conference when he was handed the pairings and could not hide a smile, although he was diplomatic when asked about the duo’s omission.

    US lead after Day 1

    Saturday, September 20th, 2008

    The Ryder Cup rarely fails to provide drama. September 19th 2008 was no exception. Very few would have predicted a three point lead for the US team going into the second day but that’s where we stand. New American heroes have emerged: Anthony Kim, Boo Weekley and Hunter Mahan may not have been household names in the world of golf before today but few will forget the extraordinary scenes provided by them and players like Mickelson and Leonard.

    Some of the European players have shone also, especially Westwood, Harrington and Rose but the scoreboard doesn’t lie. The Americans have hit more good shots and have made more putts.

    The bookies are now rating the US team as 1/2 favourites. Nick Faldo knows his team must close that gap on Day 2. They have the players to do so. Bring it on!

    Friday Fourball scores:

    Mickelson/Kim bt Harrington/McDowell by 2 holes

    Stricker/Curties lost to Poulter/Rose – 4&2

    Leonard/Mahan bt Garcia/Jiminez – 4&3

    Holmes/Weekley vs Westwood/Hansen – match halved

    The pendulum swings to the US..

    Friday, September 19th, 2008

    And so, a foursome session that looked at one stage like a one-sided victory for the Europeans turned dramatically into a 3-1 win for the US team. And the reality is that it should have been at least another half a point for the US team as Jim Furyk and Kenny Perry contrived to throw away a 2-up lead with two to play.

    For the record, the results of the morning foursomes were as follows:

    Mickelson/Kim vs Harrington/Karlsson – match halved

    Leonard/Mahan bt Casey/Stenson 3&2

    Campbell/Cink bt Rose/Poulter by one hole

    Perry/Furyk vs Garcia/Westwood – match halved

    The fourball matches began while the final foursome game was still finishing. The action and drama seems to come in unrelenting waves at the Ryder Cup!

    An all-Irish pairing of Harrington & McDowell are leading off against Kim & Mickelson and have started really well, leading by two holes after eight. Despite their disappointing finish this morning, Poulter & Rose are back in action against two fresh players Stricker & Curtis – all square after five. Garcia & Jiminez are already two holes down against Leonard/Mahan, who have started the fourball as they finished the foursomes. The home crowd are loving the final pairing of Weekley & Holmes as they battle with Westwood & Hansen.

    Oliver Wilson is the proverbial odd man out as he’s alone amongst the 24 players in Valhalla not to have played on the opening day. GIven Europe’s harshly learned lesson of not playing three rookies until the singles back in ’99, it’s likely that Faldo will give a chance to Wilson on Saturday.

    Day 1 well under way

    Friday, September 19th, 2008

    All four foursome matches are now on the course. The first hole has been very successful for the Europeans with three of their pairings going 1up. Overall, it’s been a disappointing start from the American team although they have begun to make some good putts to win back some holes. 

    The lead pairing of Mickelson and Kim have really begun to find their game. Having lost the first hole, they were gifted a hole on the third when Harrington hit straight into the hazard on the right of the green, from which Karlsson couldn’t wrestle the ball free. This looks like being an epic contest and could well have a significant impact on the outcome of the overall competition.

    Leonard & Mahan had a miserable start losing the first two holes to par but have settled down to win the next two holes with birdies.

    The English pair of Poulter & Rose have taken the lead with a birdie at the 3rd, having halved the first two holes. 

    Europe’s final pair, Westwood & Garcia, have started very well but just barely missed a birdie putt on the 2nd. Local fave, Kenny Perry, sank a monster putt on the 3rd to the delight of the home crowd.

    A lot happening all at once. Both teams winning holes but Europe have a slight edge. For now.