NO. There was plenty of fuel to spark the pre-tournament fire in the 39th biennial edition of the Ryder Cup Matches, which will forever be known as the Miracle in Medinah. Ireland’s Graeme McDowell proclaimed Europe’s stunning come-from-behind 14 1/2 to 13 1/2 triumph “It’s Brookline, Euro-style.”
With 16 of the top-25 players in the world from the United States, you’d think that winning a few foursomes, best-ball and singles matches would be a piece of cake for these titanium carrying millionaires. You’d think that homes oil advantage, including constant thunderous roars for the home-team, would inspire and guarantee a win. Most of all, you’d think that a 10-8 American lead going into the 12 final matches would result in victory for the USA, who have not won on foreign soil for in 20 years, and have lost a dismal 7 of the last 10 Ryder Cups.
What explanation exists for such a poor record? Did this Ryder Cup team take the mother of all chokes? From my front-row seat on the recliner, I watched whole lotta golf that weekend and I enjoyed the surprise, drama, passion, agony, courage, controversy and skill. Does anyone disagree that the Ryder Cup is exciting, emotional, inspiring and offers intensity unlike any other televised sporting event?
The Ryder Cup is a phenomenon to me not because the Euros have dominated the past 10 matches, but because there is no explanation for taking the best players in their respective sport, all at the top of their careers, and an organization like the PGA of America essentially owns the players for the week. What athlete in their right mind would agree to this without getting paid handsomely? The PGA of America throws the US flag over the cup and tells the players what to wear, what to eat, where to go, when to play, where to play, who to play and this goes on for five days without getting a paycheck. Give me a break?
The memory of Brookline in 1999 is resurrected not because the Euros were on the losing end of the most memorable Ryder Cup loss before the United States “choke” in Medinah, but because of the $25 million profit earned from gross revenue of $63 million, from the Ryder Cup Matches held here 13 autumns ago. Prior to the 1999 matches the players were treated like royalty, with luxury hotel rooms, gala dinners, celebrities and fans fawning over them and they received zero pay for their services. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and David Duval called the event “pros on parade” and demanded to be paid when the huge profits were revealed in an expose in Golf Digest.
The PGA of America wants us to think the Ryder Cup is about patriotism, sportsmanship and competition, but a review of the history of the Ryder Cup proves that the event is one of the largest corporate attractions in the world. Under pressure, the ingrates finally moved to offer a charity payoff to players of $200,000 to their favorite programs and foundations.
Based on my observations of this year’s matches, the 24 players put on the best golf show ever. Each player should be rewarded and paid $1 million for their sensational effort. What a memorable show, even for a skeptic like me? Since Ian Poulter was MVP, I say toss him an extra $1 million because he did things on the golf course, under intense pressure, that may never be done again in our lifetime. Let’s salute Poulter and all the players with $1 million checks. Ian Poulter is golf gold, not only in Europe but in the States. Who has ever produced in the clutch like he did that entire match?
My proposal to pay $1 million to each USA player should also solve the mystery as to why the Americans don’t perform well in the Ryder Cup. Folks, it’s about the money! Money is the only thing that motivates these talented, egotistical golf professionals, so this new pay-for-play program should start the American on a winning formula, with more Ryder Cups being won by team USA. Million dollar checks are the answer!
Tom Gorman is a Boston-based free lance writer. If asked he would shine Ian Poulter’s shoes.WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?