Literally on the run today, but thought I would take a few minutes to put my two cents in on the 38th Ryder Cup being played in Wales. It is early on Monday as I sit at my laptop. The United States watched a 6-4 lead turn into a 9 1/2 -6 1/2 deficit. That means the USA will need to get 7 1/2 of 12 points in singles matches to retain the cup.
With six of the 12 matches underway, the prospect of the United States coming back is slim. The Europeans five point win in Sunday’s four-ball match pretty much did the Americans in. Of course predicting the future is not exactly a forte of mine.
Anyway, on to some observations. Very heavy rain in Wales on Friday and into the weekend forced the matches to be pushed back to a Monday finish. The weather caused many matches to be continued from one day to the next. That is a very distracting proposition, which the Europeans seemed to handle better than the Americans.
Every so often, within my group of golf friends, the subject of a trip to the British Isles comes up. Scotland is the primary destination discussed, but for this point the venue is not important. It seems every time I turn on a golf event in Great Britain the weather is horrendous. Rain and wind on ground with long grass fluttering in the breeze. That is somewhat of an exaggeration, because every day in Britain is not like that, but I have been told repeatedly that if you spend a week there playing golf, you will get some of that weather.
Then there are the announcers. Overall, the NBC crew is OK by me, but like anything else these days, the whole shtick gets old after a while. Johnny Miller was a breath of fresh air when he began his career as an analyst. As time has passed his talk of pressure and players choking under that pressure has become somewhat boorish.
The rest of the announcers are OK, but I think the term “European soil” or “foreign soil” may have run its course. I get it. Golf is played atop soil, but do we really need to refer to the ground or land where the game is being played as soil?
Then there is the whole atmosphere of the Ryder Cup. The crowds are much more rowdy than at a typical golf event. The aura is more like a college football game than a typical tour stop except, perhaps, the FBR in Scottsdale. Theories abound on why the Americans often seem so tight in these matches and the Europeans seem loose and enjoying themselves. While many things may come into play here, I think playing for your country versus playing for a continent may apply a different kind of pressure.
Whatever the psyche a player has, player emotions can run very high in this competition. Often player reactions can lead to animosity from their opponents. The USA was criticized for storming the green in Brookline in 1999. For the most part that kind of reaction shows just how much the event matters to the players. Which brings me to Francesco Molinari. Watching the angry looking Italian fist pumping and inciting the crowd after making putts gets the emotion going as a spectator.