Friday, September 28, 2012

Ryder Cup: Day One

On Saturday, September 25, 1999, I blocked off the entire day to watch the Ryder Cup.  Back then, the Ryder Cup was one of my favorite events -- I had obsessed over it in 1991, 1993, 1995, and 1997, each of which had been very close.  So I started watching at about 8 in the morning and went straight through until about 6 P.M. -- and when the day ended, the United States trailed 10-6 and appeared to be hopelessly behind.  I was so angry and exhausted that I promised myself not to watch the singles matches the next day.

Of course, the next day the Americans came back and won the cup 14 1/2 to 13 1/2.

So that was it for me and the Ryder Cup.  Since then, I have pretty much avoided this event altogether -- for much the same reason I don't like to watch Kentucky play football.  And since I'm not that fond of watching the Americans get beat, I haven't missed that much.  Here's what's happened:

2002:  Europe wins 15 1/2 to 12 1/2
2004:  Europe wins 18 1/2 to 9 1/2
2006:  Europe wins 18 1/2 to 9 1/2
2008:  USA wins 16 1/2 to 11 1/2
2010:  Europe wins 14 1/2 to 13 1/2

So in the last five Ryder Cups, the U.S. has gotten drubbed 78 1/2 to 61 1/2.  Fortunately for me, I missed almost all of it.

Given this background, I was not surprised to see that the alternate-shot matches this morning currently stand as follows:

Furyk/Snedeker (USA) v. McIlroy/McDowell (EUR) 1 UP (7)
Mickelson/Bradley (USA) v. Donald/Garcia (EUR) 1 UP (6)
Dufner/Z. Johnson (USA) v. Westwood/Molinari (EUR) 1 UP (5)
Stricker/Woods (USA) v. Poulter/Rose (EUR) 1 UP (4)

So long, thanks for playing.

Let me reiterate once more that I have no idea why we named Davis Love as our captain.  Paul Azinger is the only American captain to win since 1999, and I think we should have given him another chance.


  1. I don't get as mad at the American players as I used to do. The golf played by the Europeans in the Ryder Cup is simply spectacular. For example, the team of McIlroy and McDowell just collected its fourth birdie in nine holes. Every two years, the Europeans just roll in putts from all over the place. Even if the Americans play well -- as they did in 2010 -- they are probably going to lose. And if they are at all mediocre -- as they were in 2004 and 2006 -- they get blown out.

    Our only recent victory came in 2008, because the Europeans couldn't read the greens in Louisville as well as they normally do. But they're holing everything as usual this morning, which makes the U.S. cause pretty hopeless.

  2. One big mistake we made was to waste the Furyk/Snedeker team by putting them up against McIlroy/McDowell. No American team can beat McIlroy/McDowell; you can just put those guys down for four points right now. What we should have done is put the Tiger/Stricker team up against McIlroy/McDowell. Tiger is going to lose anyway, so we should put him in a match where we don't have much of a chance. (And, in any event, Tiger would probably play better against McIlroy than he would against anybody else).

    But actually, now that I think about it, I don't understand why Furyk is even playing in this set of matches. He's the lowest-rated player on our team. Why is he playing, and better players like Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson, and Dustin Johnson are not?

    These would have been my teams:

    D. Johnson/Bradley (two high-risk, high-reward guys)
    Snedeker/Simpson (two Southerners)
    Watson/Dufner (two SEC guys)
    Kuchar/Z. Johnson (two steady guys)

    And leave Furyk, Mickelson, Woods, and Stricker on the bench. We know those guys can't win the Ryder Cup -- they've been getting their heads handed to them for years. Give the younger guys a chance.

    1. For what it's worth, I do like the outfits the Americans are wearing.

  3. They were talking about the team selection on Kornheiser a few weeks back and some golf guy was saying that one of the issues with the team selection is that you get a guy like Davis Love and he's going to pick a Jim Furyk because they are of the same generation and are friends. I'm guessing that plays a lot into the problems we have at the Ryder Cup.

    I still give credit to the 2008 win to Kenny Perry for making such a big deal about it all season. I think his motivation and drive to win probably had big effect on the other guys.

  4. As I expected, Tiger's team lost their match and the two Northern Irishmen won theirs. But the other two American teams pulled out victories. So we're 2-2 after the alternate-shot matches:

    Furyk/Snedeker (USA) v. McIlroy/McDowell (EUR) 1UP
    4 & 3 Bradley/Mickelson (USA) v. Donald/Garcia (EUR)
    3 & 2 Dufner/Z. Johnson (USA) v. Westwood/Molinari (EUR)
    Stricker/Woods (USA) v. Poulter/Rose (EUR) 2 & 1

    United States 2 - 2 Europe

  5. Now we've started the four-ball competitions. Here are the matches:

    Watson/Simpson (USA) v. Lawrie/Hanson (EUR)
    Mickelson/Bradley (USA) v. McIlroy/McDowell (EUR)
    D. Johnson/Kuchar (USA) v. Rose/Kaymer (EUR)
    Woods/Stricker (USA) v. Westwood/Colsaerts (EUR)

    Again, I think it's a huge mistake to put the Mickelson/Bradley team -- which would probably win against almost anyone else -- against McIlroy and McDowell. But I agree with Rube that a lot of this stuff is driven by personal dynamics. By 2016, this older generation of Americans should be mostly gone from our team. Maybe the next generation will do better.

  6. Just to underline the point one more time: the Guardian reports that Bradley has played the best of anyone today, and he pulled Mickelson through to a victory. Our only young-guy team in the morning -- Dufner and Zach Johnson -- won 3 & 2. Our other old guys -- Woods, Furyk, and Stricker -- all lost.

    Now today we only have two teams with old guys -- the Mickelson/Bradley team and the Woods/Stricker team. We will hope that Bradley can pull out another win, although that will be tough against the Ulstermen. The Woods/Stricker match I'm counting as a loss. And then we'll hope for the best with our young guys.

  7. Furyk's record in the Ryder Cup: 8-16-4.

    Mickelson's record in the Ryder Cup: 12-17-6.

    Tiger's record in the Ryder Cup: 13-15-2.

    So why would you start by building three of your four teams around those guys?

    1. I think in contrast the entire EU team has winning records in the Ryder Cup.

  8. How does this golf tournament work? What is this some best-ball deal? Or does each player play and then the best score on the whole count? And does your country get a point if your team wins its match? How do half-points work?

    1. I don't really understand what's going on here, but it sure looks and sounds on ESPN like things are going OK for the United States in this tournament.

    2. Here's how it works:

      1. There are two sides -- the U.S. and the Europeans.

      2. Each side has 12 players.

      3. Every two years, the sides meet for a three-day tournament. They take turns hosting. (So, for example, since the Europeans hosted in 2010, the Americans are hosting this year). The matches used to take place in odd-numbered years. But in 2001, the match was postponed to 2002 because of 9/11. Now they take place in even-numbered years.

      4. On the first day, which is always a Friday, there are four matches known as "foursomes" or "alternate shot" matches. In each match, a team of two Americans plays a team of two Europeans. Each team plays one ball, with the players on the team taking turns playing shots. If one team scores lower than the other team on a particular hole, that team wins the hole. At the end of 18 holes, the team that has won the most holes wins the match and gets a point for its side. If one team leads by more holes than there are holes left to play, then the match ends and the team in the lead gets a point for its side. If both teams are tied after 18 holes, each side gets half a point.

      5. On Friday, the two sides also play four matches known as "four-ball" or "best-ball" matches. Each match features a team of two Americans against two Europeans. This time, each of the four players plays his own ball. On each hole, the player on each team with the lowest score counts for his team. If the player with the lowest score on one team does better than the player with the lowest score on the other team, then his team wins the hole. The rest of the scoring takes place as described above with respect to the foursomes.

      6. Thus, the sides are playing for a total of 8 points on Friday.

      7. On Saturday, the sides will again play four alternate-shot matches and four best-ball matches. So the sides play for another 8 points on Saturday.

      8. Each team has a non-playing captain. He decides which of his 12 players he will use in the team matches, who they will play with, and the order in which they will play.

      9. On Sunday, all 12 players participate in singles matches. The captains decide the order in which their players take the course.

      10. The singles matches are decided by holes, just like the alternate-shot and best-ball matches. If a player wins a match, his side gets a point. If a match is tied after 18 holes, each side gets half a point.

      11. Twelve points are awarded on Sunday, for a total of 28 points.

      12. At the end of all 28 matches, whichever side has the most points wins the Ryder Cup. If the matches end in a 14-14 tie, then the team that last won the Cup -- in this case the Europeans -- gets to keep it for another two years.

  9. Dan Jenkins ‏@danjenkinsgd
    Keegan Bradley's pre-shot routine? He kind of looks like the kid at the pool who's not quite ready to go off the high board the first time.
    5:02 PM - 28 Sep 12

  10. Doug Ferguson ‏@dougferguson405
    First time Mickelson has ever won 2 matches in one day at the Ryder Cup
    5:11 PM - 28 Sep 12