Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ryder Cup Day Three

Davis Love III has a great sense of golf history. He is a former PGA champion and a member of five Ryder Cup teams. He is also the son of a PGA member.
What many people do not know is that the Ryder Cup competition is owned by the PGA of America, not the PGA Tour. My PGA, the other one not to be confused with the Tour, is the largest working sports organization in the world today. Back in the late 1960’s the tour players split from the PGA of America and one of the crumbs they left behind for my Association was” this beautiful little gold cup” as Ben Crenshaw calls it.
As I said earlier in the week, there was a day not too many decades ago when the PGA of America had to pay the networks to televise the Ryder Cup. Things really changed in 1991 when this match was held at Kiawah Island and that Ryder Cup was dubbed “The War by the Shore.” That Ryder Cup became one of the most hotly contested Cup matches ever.
People that have been around this match longer than me will tell you that the modern day Ryder Cup was born in 1991. And it was probably a time when the Ryder Cup reached its low point from a sportsmanship standpoint. After that year, both the European and American organizations that control the Ryder Cup matches took a step back and tried to insure that the spirit of the game would be upheld and magnified in the future.
There is no one who has a greater appreciation for the tradition and history of the game than Love III. He has made it clear from the beginning of his captaincy that he wanted U.S. fans in Chicago to be spirited and engaged, but respectful to his European opponents. Love has demanded the same thing from his team.
When Love showed his team a riveting  Ryder Cup video one night this week you could hear a pin drop.  Love put a lot of work into the production and content of the video. There were testimonials from legends such as Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Byron Nelson and Arnold Palmer.
Hogan talked about how important the Ryder Cup was to his career. He spoke to the enormity of playing for your country. Snead said that being on the Ryder Cup team was the one thing that all players dreamed of doing. He said that you felt left out if you were not included on the team.
Nelson said that the most impressionable Ryder Cup image that he had was to see players with the same shirts, slacks and golf bags. It was the first time Nelson ever saw a golf team dressed together and it gave him the motivation to work hard on his game so he could play on Ryder Cup teams. Palmer talked about he cried almost everytime he recounts his Ryder Cup experiences.
Curtis Strange talked about how the Ryder Cup was the one time in golf when the players don’t play for money. The right to play for your country is a privilege according to Strange and you do it with no monetary thoughts in mind.
Maybe the most profound comment came from Tom Watson who remembered a conversation that he had another sporting legend.
“Mickey Mantle called me right before he died and told me that he had just watched the Ryder Cup and he said that it was the greatest sporting event that he had ever seen,” said Watson who is the last American captain to lead his team to victory on foreign soil at The Belfry in 1993.
As we walked out of the restaurant, Brandt Snedeker, one of four Ryder Cup rookies quipped, “I wasn’t nervous about all of this until I watched that video.”
No American player on Love’s squad has a winning Ryder Cup record. Here are the respective records of both teams.
Phil Mickelson                   11-17-6           Lee Westwood                  16-11-6
Tiger Woods                      13-14-2          Sergio Garcia                     14-6-4
Jim Furyk                            8-15-4           Luke Donald                       8-2-1
Steve Stricker                    3-3-1               Ian Poulter                         8-3-0
Zach Johnson                     3-3-1              Graeme McDowell           4-2-2
Matt Kuchar                       1-1-2              Paul Lawrie                        3-1-1
Dustin Johnson                  1-3-0                Justin Rose                         3-1-0
Bubba Watson                  1-3-0                Martin Kaymer                  2-1-1
Keegan Bradley                 Rookie              Rory Mcilroy                      1-1-2
Webb Simpson                  Rookie              Peter Hanson                     1-2-0
Jason Dufner                     Rookie               Francesco Molinari          0-2-1
Brandt Snedeker               Rookie               Nicolas Colsaerts              Rookie
The Americans are 41-59-16 (.410) compared to the Europeans’ record of 60-32-18 (.653). These marks mean nothing on Friday morning. Mickelson is now the longest tenured American player with nine Ryder Cup experiences and 34 matches played. Billy Casper has the American record with 37 matches played. Woods has only played on one winning American team. Furyk has the 2nd worst record in Ryder Cup history for those players who have a minimum of 15 appearances.
Garcia has the 6th best all-time Ryder Cup record. He is 8-0-1 in foursome play. Westwood has won 19 points in Ryder Cup play. Nick Faldo has the all-time record with 25 points, which Westwood is a good bet to pass someday soon. Donald has never played on a losing Ryder Cup team and Poulter has taken over Ballesteros’ role as the most despised Euro opponent by many players.  Get set for a great weekend!

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