The Beat Down at Hazeltine

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3 October 2016 (Pasadena, CA) Wow, I didn’t see this coming. A few blogs a go I predicted a European win at 15-13. The final result, USA 17  Europe 11. That is about as big of a beat down in Ryder Cup history as we have witnessed in recent history. And it started on day 1 with the USA making a strong statement going up 4-o on Friday morning, a lead that the European team never overcame. Here are a few thoughts after 72 hours of the most compelling golf I have seen in a while. Patrick Reed is a beast. He set the tone for the team the whole weekend. He would not back down and brought some of the best Ryder Cup golf since, dare I say, Ian Poulter. You need a guy like Reed on your team to be successful. A fist-pumping, swashbuckling, dart throwing golf menace. His match with Rory on Sunday was epic. I really look forward to seeing how he performs in 2018 in Paris when the crowd is not as supportive. Also, a sincere apology to Matt Kuchar. After seeing him look like a deer in the headlights at Gleneagles (2014 Ryder Cup) in Scotland, I had been extremely critical of his place on the 2016 team. His steady play and well deserved 2 points were clutch. And what about Brandt Snedeker and Brooks Koepka posting 3 points each? Their rounds were not given the same media attention as other marquis players but you need quiet grinders like this to win the Cup. And it should not go unnoticed that every US player earned at least 1 point. Grinding from top to bottom is how you win this coveted piece of golf hardware. On the other side of the ticket, 4 European players failed to earn a single point. That was the difference. From my perspective, besides the 4-0 Friday morning US run, the most critical moment in the competition was Lee Westwood’s putter meltdown on Saturday. Missing 2 putts that totaled 3 feet combined swung a potential 8.5 to 7.5 lead into a 9.5 to 6.5 lead going into Sunday. Ouch. It was hard to watch no matter what team you were pulling for. And then there was the Rory, Sergio v. fans issue. I was happy to see Hazeltine and the PGA of America be proactive on the heckling issue. The result was the removal of several unruly fans (the cheeky wankers) over the weekend. There is no place for this type of behavior in golf. Cheer on your team, hell, even cheer when the other team falls short–that is the spirit of the Ryder Cup and why it is such a compelling competition. However, a ticket to an event does not allow you to broach the divide between spectator and participant. Another interesting issue was the role of Tiger Woods as a vice-captain. There was some early chatter that Woods was asked to step away from a players only meeting which the press reported as a shunning of Woods. That’s far from the truth. Post-match interviews demonstrated Woods was integral to the “background” work of the team. And to his credit, Woods was never the story, he let the team do the talking. I would not be surprised to see Tiger captain a US Team in the near future. In conclusion, I extend a hearty congratulations to Team USA. They dominated. It was a blue-collar performance. A complete team effort. All substance with little flash. Nothing would keep them from their goal once they got insides the ropes. The USA should be proud of this group. The next great test is on European soil in 2016. Only the 2nd time a Ryder Cup will be played in continental Europe. Paris! Let’s see if this US team can take the next step by winning a Ryder Cup abroad. It’s been a quarter century.

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