Yet again the Ryder Cup was a dazzling occasion as Europe swept to another resounding victory. The course was immaculate and it was wonderful to see tens of thousands of spectators across the huge mounds. So often at major golf events, the crowds only have to be three or four deep and one is struggling to see the action. The National course was designed exactly for such an occasion, even with only four matches out in the Fourballs and Foursomes; everyone was part of the action.
After a 3-1 loss of Friday morning’s Fourballs, it would be a brave bet on Europe winning convincingly overall. However, that is exactly what happened as Europe swept the U.S. away in the afternoon Foursomes. To enter the 12 Singles matches with a 10-6 lead was, of itself, a terrific fight back.
Matchplay does funny things to a player’s psyche – sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a bad way. My hero Tiger Woods has a dismal Ryder Cup record; one that does not reflect his world dominance over the last 25 years. Why is that, I wonder?
Tiger is renowned for his support of U.S. teams in the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup – even when he is not playing! I believe his record is poor for a few reasons.
- Hard as he tries, Woods cannot seem to handle the vagaries of Fourball and Foursome golf; he can’t control his opponents and he is affected by having a partner. When Tiger is in a stroke play event he is always in control of his emotions and thought process; Matchplay is quirky and Tiger doesn’t handle that well.
- Secondly, when Tiger is playing with a partner, they are under supreme pressure. It’s not the norm to be allied to the world’s greatest player. You are expected to win and that creates a peculiar stress as losing becomes more painful.
- This same scenario works for the opposition. It’s the greatest day of an opponent’s life to play against Tiger Woods – there is far less pressure because everybody expects you to lose. Consequently, Woods inspires the underdog to scale new heights – remember Y E Yang defeating Tiger in the U.S. P.G.A. Championship? That’s not going to happen twice!
My other golfing hero, Ian Poulter, again responded as only he knows how. Head to head with World #1, Dustin Johnson, “Poults” shows total control and belief. He is outgunned by the longest hitter on the U.S. Tour yet on a number of occasions knocked it past D.J.!
Often, Ian would be playing his approach shots first; this does put pressure on his opponent as he consistently peppered the flagstick. On the back 9-holes, Johnson holed two monster putts of 80 and 65 feet! Such is Poult’s resolve he finished the job, remaining calm and ruthless. Ian is a world class player and thrives on do-or–die moments, such as winning a U.S. Tour event to qualify for Augusta or finishing Runner-up at the Player’s Championship to retain his card.
So, at the age of 42, Ian Poulter justifies his Captain’s pick and makes a “Special Delivery” to his Captain, Thomas Bjorn. He is a credit to himself, his family and the game of golf – don’t be surprised if Poults is delivering winning points by “Air Mail” at Whistling Straits in 2 years time!