2006 Ryder Cup: European team puts a beatdown on USA
The European Ryder Cup team is to be congratulated for realizing their full potential. The whole was definitely greater than the sum of its parts. They were magnificent. There can be no excuse-making this time because they would have won this competition if it were played on the moon. The US team showed up with its C game and was beaten every way you can be beaten. Only a magnanimous gesture by the lovely man Paul McGinley prevented this from being a record-setting beating. His other eleven team members brought out a can of whip-ass.
The main culprits of the US demise were Phil Mickelson & Chris DiMarco who, while paired in 2 rounds of fourballs, produced exactly 7 birdies combined in 68 chances. With the lift, clean & place rule in effect, that is pathetic. Their PGA Tour average would come to 22 birdies in those 34 holes. This was supposed to be a super-pairing, based on their excellent performance in the 2005 Presidents Cup. US Captain Tom Lehman was eventually forced to sit DiMarco. No wins and only one halved foursomes match. What a shot to the solar plexus.
Tiger Woods & Jim Furyk needed to win at least three points out of their four matches for the US team to have a good chance. They won 2 and lost 2. After Luke Donald’s ball miraculously hung onto the fringe at 18 only a couple of inches from the water (a la Fred Couples at the Masters), the normally reliable Furyk was so unnerved that he duck-hooked a routine approach shot from the middle of the fairway with his trusty rescue club into the lake. A half point was lost there. The following morning Woods must still have been feeling the effects of that disaster as he made zero birdies in 16 holes – again, with the lift, clean & place rule in effect. Furyk made a few to keep the score respectable but this was another opportunity lost.
David Toms played very pedestrian golf for a veteran golfer of such high caliber. He also produced no wins and only one halved match. But to be fair, he was the victim of some poor partnering. Brett Wetterich & Mickelson gave him very little help in his losses. He likely would have beaten or halved Colin Montgomerie in Sunday singles, save for an amazing bounce off rocks for Monty. (Who says there aren’t any leprechauns?) The rest of the team played near expectations, plus or minus a half point. Stewart Cink, Scott Verplank, Zach Johnson and JJ Henry acquitted themselves well enough.
In the end result, it may not have mattered but had the top three ranked players in the world played up to the normal standards, the score would have been tied or in the US favor heading into the singles matches. And Sunday sure would have been a helluva lot more interesting, for them and for us.
Next blog: Couldas, Wouldas & Shouldas
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This year's event didn't excite me as much as previous Ryder Cups as it was never really close or in doubt in my opinion, but it was good to see some great golf by the European players, especially Casey's hole in one!