by G. Rennie
The official PGA Tour statistics say that 1.97 inches of rain fell on Muirfield Village Golf Club during the days of competition this week but I don’t believe it. I had at least 2 inches of rain my shoes on Friday alone! Rain was the overriding theme of this President’s Cup and it’s a shame. Jack’s place in Dublin, Ohio has earned a reputation as a reliably wet venue for its June hosting of The Memorial Tournament. But a fall time slot that seemed to promise firm and fast conditions morphed into a mini-deluge.
For all his talents and accomplishments, Jack couldn’t get Mother Nature to play ball. But that was the only thing at Muirfield that wasn’t first class this week.
One of the casualties of this rain fest was the planned public closing ceremony which was scuttled and replaced by a small presentation in the media interview room followed by player interviews. Although the closing ceremony was washed out the opening ceremony on Thursday morning got rave reviews. The Ohio State University Band (in a reduced version of the huge, full compliment band) marched up the first fairway with the high stepping drum major kicking off the weeks proceedings. Tucked in the back ranks of the four columns of marches was none other than the host, Jack Nicklaus, making a stealth entrance up to the first tee. Jack loves his alma mater OSU and it seemed that every other spectator was sporting OSU red.
Phil Mickelson was out in the last singles match today paired against El Pato, Angel Cabrera.
This was a back and forth match with neither player able to get much of an advantage. Philly Mick brought a 1 up lead into the short par 4 fourteenth hole but pulled his iron off the tee forty yards off line. His approach shot came from a severe hanging lie on the hillside right of the fairway. Dead ahead was a rather large chestnut tree with a stream beckoning just past and winding down to the green. From our vantage point on the left side of the fairway it looked like Phil was either trying to carve a slice around the right side of the tee or he saw a small gap and thought he could squeeze one through. Nothing doing as his ball ricocheted off the tree, caromed into the stream but miraculously skipped up onto the far side bank! Phil being Phil, he promptly pitched his ball to five feet with every expectation of an unlikely par save. But it wasn’t to be as Phil pushed this putt wide and then did the same on the par 5 fifteenth hole. By the time this match reached the eighteenth the Cup had been decided in favor of the USA. Phil’s closing bogey from the rear greenside bunker gave Cabrera the match victory and brought the final tally to USA 18.5 points to Internationals 15.5 points.
Team USA entered the final phase of the competition with what seemed an insurmountable lead of 14 to 8 and the rout was on. But the Internationals made a contest of it for a while and gave us a small bit of drama before the inevitable came to be. Jason Day, Graham DeLaet, and Brendon de Jonge were the studs for the International side. The final margin of three points is a bit misleading (because it was never that close on Sunday until the end) but maybe it will quiet down the chorus of voices, critical of this competition, who would like to see an end to this Cup.
This contest was a birdie fest, on a truly great course, a goodwill match that was mostly devoid of the over the top boorish nationalism that has taken over the Ryder Cup.