A couple of decades back Taiwan was winning the Little League World Series every year, beating the snot out of an American team. It was essentially a world tournament in one bracket and a U.S.A. tournament in the other, guaranteed to make sure that America had a representation in the championship game at Williamsport.
When it became apparent that the country that invented baseball could not beat kids from the other side of the world the “adults” who run Little League Baseball (TM) decided that if you can’t beat ‘em, then ban ‘em. For a couple of years foreign countries could not participate in the LL series. We won, finally……………………..but what did we win? Quickly the lords of LL opened the competition up again. What they learned is that sometimes, often as it turned out, there are other people on this planet who are really good. So it has become in golf.
For years the United States dominated the Ryder Cup matches, crushing the team from the United Kingdom. The matches were played, the U.S. won and nobody noticed. Heck, most of the top American players refused to participate. Nothing in it for them. Then the Golden Bear, Jack Nicklaus, had a brainstorm. Let all of Europe make up the team from across the pond. Made sense. America is so much larger than the U.K. and this would level the playing field. Well the field may be level now but the golf certainly has not been. The Euros have won 11 of the last 15 competitions and this year they crushed our lads.
People like Tom Gorman, who believes that the Ryder Cup is nothing more than a PGA of America shell game, will tell you that our guys choked like dogs or that they only go through the motions in this competition because they don’t get paid. The truth, sad as it may be, is that the Euros are better in the team format than the Americans and they have more enthusiasm for the matches. We care a lot. They are passionate. For example; During practice rounds on the PGA Tour the American players love to have their money matches. They’ll go one on one or even have best ball. The Euros regularly play the alternate shot format that often decides the Ryder Cup.
This year we won the fourball (best ball) format and got killed in the foursomes (alternate shot). We used to be able to get away with that in the past because we would dominate singles matches. No longer. The Euros are not intimidated by the “great” American players anymore because most of them compete over here regularly.
America may have more players in the top 100 in the world but the Euros have more players capable of being number one in the world right now. They have Rory, who is number one. They have Martin Kaymer and Justin Rose. And for some reason they have two players who cannot seem to get it done on the PGA Tour – Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia – but who turn into Supermen when the Ryder Cup comes around.
Perhaps the Euros enthusiasm for the Ryder Cup stems from the fact that they only play in these matches every two years whereas the Americans participate in the Presidents Cup matches in the years between Ryder Cup events. It’s no longer as special to our guys.
Gorman thinks the Ryder Cup is a rip off, run by charlatans. To a degree he’s correct. It is an exhibition, but then so are the Olympics. Nothing in golf is as exciting as a Ryder Cup. Where else do you see the possessed eyes of Ian Poulter?WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?