I had the opportunity to watch some of the Ryder Cup this morning. Between the weather delays and early starts, it has been tough to catch on TV. I do not know about you, but waking up at 3am to watch golf is not exactly my thing. As much as I love to watch the Ryder Cup that is not going to happen. Thank goodness for the DVR’s.
As we enter the final day of “Singles” matches, the US team is once again down to the European Ryder Cup team in points. The score thus far is Europe 9 1/2, USA 6 1/2. That is a tough deficit to come back from but the US team is capable if they play really well.
Each time the Ryder Cup comes around the Golf Analysts always ponder why the US team has not done better in the matches against Europe? Especially, when the matches are played in Europe. In watching today’s play I came to the conclusion that it comes down to four primary reasons which I call the four P’s.
The Four “P’s” are; Patience, Pace, Passion and Preparation.
Patience: the pace of play was difficult to stand as a spectator let alone as a player. It seems to me that the players take an inordinate amount of time around the greens reading puts and playing shots. Especially the European Team where they need a decision by council before striking a putt. I believe this pace annoys many of the US players and probably disrupts their rhythm. The game is hard enough to play under pressure when your rhythm is good, let alone, when it is slowed down dramatically, by the opposing teams. Notice there is no pace of play rule or “clock” for slow play like there is on the PGA Tour.
Pace: The greens in Wales could not be any slower. I challenge you to count the number of times a US player leaves a putt short. Even when they have a free run at the putt the leave it short. The US team is just not used to playing on greens this slow. I know, the argument it that they are the best players in the world and should be able to adjust their speed. However, I beg to differ. Players at that level have a tough time adjusting to greens that slow every four years. The European side is much better adept at playing on greens of a slower pace. They face these cold, damp, wet conditions much more each year that the American players do.
Passion: Again, I have to criticize the US players and Captains on this point. The Analysts always talk about how much more passion the European Players play with. I have to agree, it almost means more to their team for some reason. In addition, why do our Captains continue to pick players who have little fire or energy, like Stewart Cink. Even Johnny Miller has questioned Cink’s place on the team. Cink, who has an abysmal Ryder Cup record, continues to get picked. Why we cannot pick players who play with passion and can make lots of birdies is beyond me. After all, each Ryder Cup seems to come down to these two elements as the most important in winning.
Preparation: Again, I think the US players probably do not and cannot prepare for the conditions they will face in Europe. Playing, practicing and working on your game in Florida, Texas, Arizona, Nevada or California is never going to prepare you for the conditions in Europe. Unfortunately, that is where most US players live and practice. Paul Azinger was the US Teams Ryder Cup Captain when the matches were played two years ago at Valhalla. He developed a system that produced a winning team and was praised for it. He even wrote a book about his winning strategy. That strategy seems to have been ignored by this year’s Captain Pavin. Perhaps, we should have sent a copy to Captain Pavin’s house before this year’s Cup.
I sure hope we win the matches tomorrow and retain the Cup. However, if the US Team does not begin getting these four critical areas corrected every Ryder Cup is going to be a real test. Especially, when they are playing on foreign soil.
What are your thought and recommendations on how the US team can fare better in the Ryder Cup?