That Mojo Has Worked for Euros

By George WhiteSeptember 21, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup MatchesVoodoo and Ouija boards, moonless nights and black cats. Is it really just a case of bad luck? Oh ' and you can throw one more in there: the United States getting smoked time and again in the Ryder Cup.
 
They try again this week, the boys from America. And actually, theres no science to describe it. Europe shows up at the matches and, for some reason, applies the perfunctory death grip on the Yanks. Result ' the Europeans have won the four of the last five, with only a superhuman rally by the U.S. in 1999 keeping it from being Europe 5, America 0.
 
I used to scoff loudly when someone bought up the concept of team or mentioned something as vague as bonding. Hey, this is golf. It isnt football, where you have 11 men whose duties are vastly different. In golf, what do you do? You hit the ball off the tee, you knock it on the green, you putt it. It seemed like a simple enough assignment without any room for mysticism. The 12 men who were the best, be they from the U.S. or from Europe, won.
 
But this has gotten way out of hand, and I cant make myself believe that for the last 10 years, the Europeans have so dominated golf. And ' they havent. Americans have a big lead in the number of wins in majors. Americans have won 10 of the last 12 British Opens. But Europe has the 4-1 lead in the Ryder. And that can no longer be written off to coincidence.
 
Ergo, I am beginning to believe in the M-word ' meshing, and the T-word ' team. I have also begun to believe in voodoo and black cats and the foolishness of walking under ladders.
 
Lets look at the last four matches, dating back to 1997, since only American (Phil Mickelson) and one European (Colin Montgomerie) played in '95.
 
Its been a lopsided story since 97. The U.S. has won only one daily session in that timespan ' in 02 when the Yanks prevailed, 4 - 3 , on Saturday. Every other day of the last four Ryder Cups, the Europeans either beat the Americans in the team matches or at worst tied (once). You think the karma isnt impressive on the European side?
 
Now, in the singles, its a different story. America leads in that category, 25 -22 1/2. More on that later ' right now, lets concentrate on the pairs, where the U.S. has a poor record with Europe leading the last four Ryder Cups by 39 points to 24.
 
Incidentally, most people believe the Europeans have a big lead in the alternate-shot (foursomes) because the men of the U.S. never play that format. In the U.K., as a matter of fact, alternate-shot is quite often played when four men go out in the evenings for a friendly match. Its a much quicker game, of course, when you have just two balls in play amongst the four players, rather than four balls for four players.
 
Better-ball (fourballs), of course, is the game almost always played in the U.S. when four men get together for Saturday outings. But ' Europe has a more commanding lead in better-ball. In that exercise, they are 20 -11 . Alternate shot (foursomes)? They had a 6-2 advantage the last time out, but except for that one, they are up by only 13-11. Hmmm
 
The singles story has become much closer the last couple of times the Ryder Cup has been played. The pattern was nearly always the same ' Europe would keep it very close in the team matches, but would absolutely get murdered in singles. In both 2002 and 2004, Europe actually won the singles, 7 - 4 each time.
 
A side note here: Jim Furyk is unbeaten in the Ryder Cup in singles. And in fact, he is unbeaten in the Presidents Cup. He is a combined 7-0-1, a draw with Irishman Paul McGinley the only blot on an otherwise perfect record.
 
Chris DiMarco, incidentally, is a perfect 3-0 in the Ryder and Presidents singles. Tiger Woods is 5-2-1, having lost to Costantino Rocca and Retief Goosen and drawing with Jesper Parnevik.
 
Woods, though, has a disappointing mark of 2-6-1 in team play in the Ryder Cup. But dont tell Tiger that he doesnt care about these matches!
 
I put my heart into it each and every time, said Tiger. I hate losing, and I go out there and I play with all my passion. It's just unfortunately sometimes I do not win.
 
I've had some of my best matches where I've shot some of my best scores - shot 64 twice and only won one match in best ball; 65 two times, and again, only won one match. And one of the matches I shot 63 with Davis (Love) in best-ball and barely won that.
 
So I've played some of my best golf and haven't gotten all the points that I felt I could have. There's times where I've played like a dog, as well. So I don't know. I try so hard, and unfortunately sometimes you just don't win.
 
Its a mantra that could be repeated by just about all the American players of late. Yes, Europe had to have better team players, whatever that meant. That doesnt necessarily mean that the Europeans wanted it more, or tried harder. What it definitely means is that they have known how best to mesh together. And dont ask me to explain that, because it goes far beyond what I can express.
 
Jose Maria Olazabal says that the Americans cant be faulted for their team spirit, nor can they be faulted for not having a greater will to win.
 
I think they care, and they have cared in the past, he said. And I think they care this time. I'm pretty sure that theyre more eager to do well this time because of what happened the last two editions.
 
We are all competitors, and none of us likes to lose. I know they are fighters. I know they have come with one goal, and that one is pretty simple - trying to beat us. We're going to have to play really, really well if we want to keep that trophy with us.
 
But, lets face it ' Europe in the past has had that certain mojo, that karma, that ' team spirit? Whatever it is, it has worked exceptionally well for them.
 
Email your thoughts to George White
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - 36th Ryder Cup Matches
  • Day finishes strong, leads Aussie Open by one

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 25, 2017, 6:12 am

    Jason Day birdied three of his final five holes to take a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand in Sydney:

    Leaderboard: Day (-10), Lucas Herbert (-9), Jonas Blixt (-7), Matt Jones (-7), Cameron Smith (-6), Rhein Gibson (-5), Anthony Quayle (-5)

    What it means: Day has a great shot at his first victory – in his final start – in 2017. It’s been a frustrating campaign for Day, who has dropped to 12th in the Official World Golf Ranking. A win this week, in his native Open, would be a huge boost as he embarks on the 2018 season.


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    Round of the day: Day’s 2-under 69 wasn’t the lowest of the day, but it was the most important. Day parred his first 13 holes before birdies on Nos. 14 and 15. He bogeyed the 17th, but finished with a birdie at the par-5 18th for the outright lead.

    Best of the rest: Blixt’s 66 put him in position to win. Meanwhile, Japanese amateur Takumi Kanaya shot the low round of the day, a 6-under 65, to reach 4 under for the tournament.

    Biggest disappointment: No one really blew it on Saturday, but Jordan Spieth was unable to make a move. His 1-under 70 has him eight shots off the lead. Herbert managed an even-par 71 but he had a two-stroke lead until an errant tee shot at the par-3 11th. Speaking of which …

    Shot of the day: Not every Shot of the Day is a great shot. Herbert made a long birdie putt on the eighth and was two clear of the field through 10 holes. But he hit his tee shot long at the 11th and was not able to find it. He had to re-tee, made double bogey and lost his advantage. He’s now chasing a major champion in the final round.

    Spieth stalls on Moving Day at Australian Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 25, 2017, 4:30 am

    Moving Day? Not so much for Jordan Spieth in Round 3 of the Emirates Australian Open.

    Spieth, the defending champion and also a winner in 2014, continued to struggle with his putter, shooting 1-under 70 on Saturday at the Australian Golf Club in Sydney.

    “I was leaving them short yesterday and today it was kind of misreading, over-reading. I missed a lot of putts on the high side – playing wind or more break,” he said. “I just really haven’t found a nice marriage between line and speed to get the ball rolling.”


    Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


    The world No. 2 started the day eight off the pace and was unable to make a charge. He had three birdies and two bogeys, including a 4 at the par-5 finishing hole.

    Spieth praised his ball-striking in the wind-swept conditions, but lamented his putting, which has hampered him throughout the week.

    “Ball-striking’s been fantastic. Just gotta get the putts to go,” he said.

    Spieth, who is scheduled to compete in next week’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, is still holding out hope for a third title in four years at this event. He fired a brilliant 63 in very windy conditions to prevail in ’14.

    “Tomorrow is forecasted as even windier than today so you can still make up a lot of ground,” he said. “A few years ago I shot a final round that was a nice comeback and anything like that tomorrow can still even be enough to possibly get the job done.”

    South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

    By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

    South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

    Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

    Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

    Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

    So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

    Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

    The fourball results:

    LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

    LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

    LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

    KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

    LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

    LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

    NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.

     

    Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

    By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

    In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

    Made Cut

    The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

    Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

    “I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

    Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

    Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

    This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

    Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

    Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

    The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

    Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

    Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

    The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.


    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

    First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

    “You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

    A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

    “The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

    For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

    Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

    “I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

    Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

    “Oh, yeah,” he told Golf.com. “Way by.”

    Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

    Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.


    Missed Cut

    Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

    Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

    “That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

    Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

    While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.