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Teed Off (Oct 5, 2014)

Update: October, 05/2014 - 20:13

with Robert Bicknell

Who lost the Ryder Cup?

According to Phil Mickelson, who decided to throw Tom Watson under the bus during a press conference immediately after the loss, it was Tom Watson and only Tom Watson who caused the loss. Golf pundits across the spectrum were debating if it was due to the captain's picks, the way Watson managed the team, or because Europe simply out-played the USA.

OK, first of all, Mickelson was both right and wrong. Watson did a lousy job, made poor picks and acted like Captain Bligh. On the other hand, Mickelson should have kept his mouth shut in public and dealt with it privately. You hardly ever hear Europeans airing dirty laundry, but the US seems to take delight in rubbing their own noses in their own poop.

However, Mickelson's outburst is indicative of the problem in the bigger picture.

Team USA is a collection of individual multi-millionaires who have absolutely nothing to do with each other unless absolutely necessary. Team Europe, on the other hand, seems geared more towards having fun, rather than painting the Ryder Cup as a war of some kind.

The US always tries to paint something as a war. The War on Terror, The War on Drugs, The War on Poverty, The War on Homelessness, The War on Unemployment. They don't do anything about it, but they declare war on it and consider the item fixed.

Europeans, on the other hand quietly fix the problem. Public whinging is frowned upon. Stiff upper lip and all that.

Hey, remember when you were a kid and had a pick-up game of some sort? Football, Stickball, Baseball, Soccer, or just "kill the kid with the ball"? We chose sides, decided on rules for the day and went out and had a great time. If there was a doubtful issue, we had a "do over".

Those games were always more fun than the organized team games in school where coaches and parents got so frantic you thought the destiny of the world was riding on the outcome. Now consider the attitudes of the Ryder Cup…

Team USA full of bombastic rhetoric, declarations of war and retribution. Issues of redemption, et al. This isn't just a golf event, this is war.

Team Europe - "hey guys, let's go play some golf. Rory, you play him, Rosey, you play that fat guy. Sergio - you play that guy with the funny swing and don't leave a ball in the bunker this time. Guy who loses buys the beer tonight…"

I mean, c'mon. How serious can it be when the crowd asks players to DANCE on the first tee and they actually break out into a shimmy? It's called "having a good time" and Team USA has forgotten how to actually enjoy it and stop taking themselves so seriously.

How serious do the American players take themselves? OK, when was the last time, no, the ONLY time, a Masters Champion was so desperate for recognition that he wore his Green Jacket to pick up donuts at Krispy Kreme?

Yeah, Phil, we're looking at you. Enjoy your turn under the bus. Sucks, eh?

The last time Team USA won was under Paul Azinger. Zinger was a friend to most everyone. He was both respected on the course and off the course. He earned their respect and admiration for beating cancer. He made the Cup fun again for the team. He knew the secret of winning was picking guys who could have a great time playing together as a team.

Sorry, but the Ryder Cup is not just a tournament, it's an "event". There is a carnival-like atmosphere, albeit one laced with patriotism, but not enough so that the fans cannot appreciate a great shot by the opposing side.

It's about giving the fans and the players a chance to have fun.

I was on the practice putting green the other day and a golf ball went whizzing by my head. Missed me by about a metre. Better luck next time, pal.

Listen, the definition of a "chip" is a ball that rolls further than it flies. A "pitch" is one the flies further than it runs. If you are using a 60-degree wedge to "chip" to a flag five-metres away, that's not a chip, it's a pitch.

Someday, someone is gonna get hurt. — VNS

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