As the clock ticks closer to the start of the 40th Ryder Cup Matches, I can’t help but strap in for three days of amped-up golf. Even in the middle of football season the occasional fan is likely to keep tabs on the score. It is 2014’s last hurrah of “Golfing With The Stars”.
I first recall catching a glimpse of highlights from the 1975 matches played at Laurel Valley in Pennsylvania. The eighteenth hole is a dogleg par five around a large lake rising to an elevated putting surface. Arnold Palmer was playing the hole and lashed one of his low rising 3 –woods across the lake and up on the green. By a score of 21-11 the Americans easily defeated the GB & I (Great Britain and Ireland) squad as was expected. I didn’t think much of it then as an eighteen year old. The USA was supposed to win. Oh how that quickly changed.
Over the last thirty years the status of the Ryder Cup has risen faster than Jack Ma’s net worth. Today America is doggedly pursuing their ambition to bring the cup back to the states. They need a win. They need this win.
I’m content to accept the outcome should the Europeans prevail. After all they do seem to be resounding favorites on paper. But as everyone knows golf is played on grass of various lengths and consistencies. Right now, less than ten hours to the opening match the score is 0-0 and both teams feel as if they will taste victory.
I plan to be awake at 1:30 am Central Daylight Time tuned into Golf Channel’s coverage. Who knows what to expect in better ball match play? I do however have a wish list of things I’d liked to see over the next three days. Here are a few:
Should this be Phil Mikelson’s last appearance in the matches I would like to see the USA have a chance going into Sunday. If so it will be up to him to lead this team to victory.
I want to find out what Patrick Reed is made of. Captain Watson didn’t hesitate to toss him into the morning pool of matches. Sink or swim, I’ll find out by sunup on Friday.
Hunter Mahan has a good week. Ideally a Hollywood finish with him canning a 20 footer to win back the cup would be wonderful but it won’t happen. Likewise I don’t want to see him in a position similar to what he endured in 2010.
Rickie Fowler vs Rory McIlroy singles match on Sunday. Now that would attract some viewers.
The self-imposed pressure of playing for your country. Choking, heroics, bold attempts, questionable decisions, tops, shanks, skulls and missed two-footers. It’s going to happen, it’s just a question of who handles it the best.
Lastly, Scotland owes Tom Watson a chance to go out on top. His near-miss at the 2009 Open Championship was great theater. He had one hand on the Claret Jug. The win would have meant more for Watson than Stewart Cink. Nothing against Cink. He’s had a nice career and can pay his bills but golf history is not going to shine a spotlight on his accomplishment like it will Watson’s. Maybe “Ol’ Toom” has one more trick up his sleeve.
It’s easy to list what I don’t want to see – boorish fan behavior that degrades or unfairly criticizes any player. These men are doing their best to compete. Let’s not have spectators ruin the event by stealing the true spirit of the game. Sportsmanship is a vital part of the game. Hopefully it is in full view of everyone watching. It is what all of us play for. It’s what they’ll be playing for on golf’s grandest stage in a matter of hours — to win fairly and shake hands with your fellow competitors at day’s end.
Let’s hope for a great weekend of golf. I’d better get my nap in. Cheers!