Five things we have learned from the Ryder Cup
Five things learned from the United States’ 17-11 victory over Europe in the 41st Ryder Cup team golf matches concluded Sunday at Hazeltine:
- Captain’s picks are huge: European captain Darren Clarke named Cup veterans Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer over more on-form talent such as Scotland’s Russell Knox. While the locker room might have benefited from experience with six rookies, Westwood went 0-3 and missed a short putt to cost Europe a half-point in Saturday four-ball and lost the last three holes to hand US rookie Ryan Moore a singles victory and the Cup-clinching point. Kaymer went 1-3 but the win came only after the Cup had been lost. Cup rookie pick Thomas Pieters of Belgium went 4-1, a record for Europe rookie points and the first rookie to play five Cup matches since 1979.
- Everyone’s a winner, baby, that’s the truth: Every US player scored at least one point. That had not happened in a Ryder Cup since 1975 at Laurel Valley, when a US side captained by the late golf icon Arnold Palmer defeated Europe 21-11. US rookie Ryan Moore took two wins including the Cup decider. Patrick Reed led the Americans with 3.5 points while and rookie Brooks Koepka and Brandt Snedeker each scored three.
- Spectator sportsmanship matters too: Most players found nice ways to say it or downplay it but there were far too many jerks getting in the faces and on the nerves of European players at the Ryder Cup. Buying a ticket brings the chance to yell and scream within reason. Obscene remarks and the chance to abuse players as they walk nearby, or to impact the event by screaming as they swing, is a sad act of pathetic fools. And people wonder why athletes aren’t more open to the public. It’s OK to cheer bad visitors’ shots at the Ryder Cup unlike most other events. Same with Davis Cup in tennis. But it’s worth remembering those players cheered by home soil supporters so lustfully must go on the road later. Respect others. Sportsmanship. Put down the early morning booze and applaud.
- Swipe from experts: Europe had won eight of the past 10 Ryder Cups. The USA revamped its program by basically doing what Europe does. Keep a core of people and have it evolve over time. OK, Colin Montgomerie and Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood didn’t win majors. But the Ryder Cup wins were their majors. The key is building on what they have done. And the Americans should be so lucky if their organization can produce as many wins as Europe has in the prior 20 years. USA Basketball put together a tight program after settling for bronze at the 2004 Olympics and been golden at the Games ever since.
- The “King” is dead. Long live the “King”: Arnold Palmer died a week ago at age 87. His legacy is in every pro golfer all over the world. Palmer, nicknamed the “King,” touched the hearts of every player at the Ryder Cup. Gathering at Hazeltine was group therapy for dealing with the loss in some ways. Most will gather at a memorial service Tuesday in Pennsylvania. He’s gone. He will never be forgotten.