by G. Rennie
Did St. David rid Wales of Dragons by drowning the menacing bastards? If so, he probably did it in the month of October. It’s a lovely country, Wales, with more consonants in its language than Heinz has pickles and one great match play golf course, for sure. On that Twenty Ten Course two well matched teams entertained us this past weekend (and a day) and now we have the result and all the impassioned celebration, followed by the new flood of commentary, some sage, some all wet.
One of the themes that’s taken hold of the golf commentariat is that Monty gets high marks, an A+ on many ledgers, and Corey is marked down to a D.
I don’t buy it. In my view Monty had a softball served up, a tit job, so scripted that most any seasoned golf pro who wasn’t also a knight could have pulled off. The European Team has been the dominant force in Ryder Cup golf for the last eight contests and they were, on paper this year, a huge favorite. Here they were at home on a course they play on their tour, supported by enthusiastically verbal fans. Monty was able to tailor the course to fit his teams’ strengths (shorter but accurate hitters, used to sluggish greens) and nullifying some strengths of Team USA (length and fast greens mastery). There’s no secret to that, even I could do it (well, maybe not). All week long folks were waiting to see how many feet Monty could simultaneously fit in his mouth but on that end he disappointed, keeping his cool mostly and his tongue (he nearly lost it, I think, late in the singles). But is not screwing up a near sure thing the measure of success for a Ryder Cup Captain?
The point is Monty just had to make sure his guys showed up to the tee at the right time. The Euros know how to play Ryder Cup. The reasons for that have been chronicled or postulated by many folks much smarter than this scribe during recent years.
The Americans had forgotten how to play Ryder Cup until Paul Azinger taught our side to be loose and play loose. Our fellows had endured many years of misguided captains who gave them the RAH RAH treatment and embarrassing wardrobes. Zinger understood an elemental truth about how to best prepare a Ryder Cup team: that close, comfortable relationships in the team pairings is the key. It wasn’t clear until the matches began on Friday if Captain Pavin had understood that lesson but it’s clear now that he did. He had his boys relaxed and ready to play and they won the first session, something Team USA doesn’t typically do. Usually our guys are digging out of a hole before most of the US TV audience has even had their morning coffee. He also displayed some keen insight in unconventional pairings, especially the Bubba and Boom Baby pairing in session one. This Team USA validated the victory earned by their predecessors at Valhalla in 2008 and set the stage for a continued resurgence of USA’s Ryder Cuppers for years to come.
Captain’s get too much credit for a win, too much heat for loss. It’s cliché but I’ll stand by it. Corey engineered a low key attitude and low profile approach at Celtic Manor in direct opposition to the hyperbolic Monty and the media have really burned him for not having high entertainment value. Turn on “Dancing with the Stars” if you need that kind stimulation. I prefer my golf peppered with some humor, some humility, some hole outs and lot’s of one putts. If a few more putts had dropped for our guys they would have won the cup. Corey couldn’t have done anything about that. He did his job and he did it well.