Blog 241, 9/30/12 - Ryder Cup: Sunday Singles; Not Predicting a Happy Day for Europe

As a European, I hope Jose Maria Olazabal went to bed Saturday night with the same 'good feeling about this' that Ben Crenshaw felt at Brookline in 1999. Europe trails the US at Medinah by the same four points that Crenshaw's team was behind Mark James’s European dozen 13 years ago. By winning the first six singles matches that fateful day, however, and eight and half points in total, the Americans turned a likely defeat into the most amazing comeback the tournament has seen.
And if it weren't for Ian Poulter, today's predicament could have been a lot worse for Europe. Poulter, as he so often does at the Ryder Cup, summoned up the passion and inspiration that seemed to be lacking among his teammates who were obviously stunned by their opponents’ superb play, and putting in particular. Poulter, partnered by Rory McIlroy in the last fourball of the afternoon, refused to have his perfect record soiled and, by birdieing the final five holes, scraped a 1up victory over Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson that gave him a 3-0-0  tally going into the singles.
As Colin Montgomerie said on the Golf Channel Saturday evening, every one of the 12 Europeans are capable of beating any of the 12 Americans on their day. But the likelihood of that happening on Sunday is, of course, rather remote. If they do pull it off, it will be even more impressive than the US's comeback in '99 because three of the Europeans hadn't played a single match before the Sunday singles that year. You'd hardly say it was expected, but Mark James was kind of asking for trouble. This US team has seven major winners and is loaded with top-20 players. Indeed, only Jim Furyk is outside the world top 20, at 23. And they have all played at least twice so far this week.
Olazabal will need his top guns to play better than they have thus far and his lesser lights to overcome any inferiority complex they may have and make a name for themselves. The US needs just four and a half points to claim its second Ryder Cup victory of the century. It obviously has the players to do it. The Sunday line-up promises a number of utterly intriguing head-to-head encounters. As you’ll see from my predictions, I’m not anticipating a happy day for Europe.

Blog 240, 9/27/12 - Ryder Cup: Friday Morning Foursomes Picks

ryder cupOn Tuesday morning of Ryder Cup week, there's a huge sense of anticipation ahead of the game's most exciting team competition. By Thursday evening, the golf world seems ready to burst. "Will this thing ever start?" it wants to scream. A few months before he died, Seve Ballesteros said the competition should start on the Thursday, and gave a list of reasons why, not one of which any sensible official could argue with. Wall-to-wall coverage of the competition is great; we know that from being given TV access to the front nine holes at Augusta National during the Masters. But ceaseless coverage of the preliminaries can reach critical mass at some point after which the viewers lose a little interest and can actually forget what it is we're here for.
The most compelling of Seve's reasons for wanting to begin earlier in the week, was that fans want to see more action. Why make them wait an extra day and have them listen to analysts analysing what they think might happen...but might not.
This year we have at least been spared the discussion on what impact the late arrival of three American caddies who had to take a different flight to the players might have on the team, and how the Captain's wife has taken it upon herself to decide her husband's team's lodging, eating and apparel arrangements. But in their place, we have continued to hear about the Americans' fixation with ping-pong (a storyline that passed its sell-by date long ago surely), how the teams are dining each evening, and how they are all good friends because they all live in the same high-end neighborhoods. We've also heard an awful lot about the course and how the set-up, and the lack of rough in particular, will theoretically favor the home team...but might not.
It is encouraging that the subject of starting a day earlier has at least been broached this week, so hopefully we won't wait as long at Gleneagles in 2014 for the golf to start.
Whatever, we're here now. I hope the prelude hasn't dulled your senses too much, and that you're ready for three days of pulsating drama. May the better team win.

Blog 239, 9/25/12 - Vikings Cruise to 17-Shot Home Win

The Western Washington men's team ended a five-year winless streak at its own Viking Invitational today, cruising to a 17-shot victory at the Bellingham Golf and Country Club.

Blog 238, 9/18/12 - Vikings Finish Third at Season Opener

The Western Washington men's team shot a final round 297 (+9) at the University of Indianapolis Invitational at Brickyard Crossing GC Tuesday, finishing the tournament in third place.

Blog 237, 9/18/12 - Rawitzer Enjoys the Japan Experience

Matt Rawitzer may not have played his best at last week's Topy Cup in Japan, but he says the thrill of traveling overseas made up for it.

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