Coffee Time for Europeans

By Mercer BaggsSeptember 23, 2006, 4:00 pm
36th Ryder Cup MatchesIn two years, the Europeans will employ Nick Faldo as their Ryder Cup captain. The U.S might want to try Blake.
 
Whos Blake? Hes from downtown. From Mitch & Murray. Hes on a mission of mercy.
 
The 12 players on the next U.S. Ryder Cup team might not be familiar with Blake. But rest assured as soon as one of them got up to grab a cup of coffee, theyd know everything they need to know about him.
 
Paul Casey
It's almost coffee time for Paul Casey and the Europeans.
'PUT THAT COFFEE DOWN, he would exclaim. Coffee is for closers!
 
Alec Baldwin played Blake in the movie Glengarry Glen Ross. He was sent in by the home office to motivate a sagging sales crew. He berates them. He belittles them. He uses more profanity than all of Samuel L. Jacksons characters combined.
 
Of course, this probably wouldnt work for the Americans. They wouldnt take too kindly to being treated this way. And Blake wouldnt be able to intimidate them with his $80,000 BMW or his fancy watch.
 
But perhaps he could at least instill in them the ABCs: Always Be Closing.
 
The Americans cannot close a match. The Europeans can. And thats why the Euros are in wonderful position to win this competition for the fourth time in the last five contests.
 
The score is 10-6, which means the home team has to only secure 4 more points to retain the Cup.
 
Its a similar scenario to that of seven years ago, when the Europeans led by the same margin entering the singles. They, of course, got blasted that Sunday at Brookline, with the Americans winning 8 of 12 points to earn their only win since 1995.
 
In 99, then U.S. captain Ben Crenshaw wagged his finger at all the doubting Thomases and famously said: Im a big believer in fate and Ive got a good feeling about this thats all Im going to say.
 
Lehman would like to believe in fate. He knows the similarities between this competition and that of seven years ago, including the fact that the PGA Championship was contested at Medinah on both occasions (for whatever that's worth).
 
'I can tell you that our team doesn't feel this is over by any stretch of the imagination,' said Lehman, who played on the '99 team and led the U.S. charge by winning the first singles match that Sunday.
 
'Do I have a feeling? I have a feeling that our team is going to play incredibly inspired golf tomorrow.'
 
But this ain't Boston. This is Ireland. This is a road game. This time, European captain Ian Woosnam isn't making the same mistakes of then captain Mark James. He has played everyone over the first two days, and he's not saving his top players for the bottom of the singles line-up.
 
Lehman wants to believe. This, however, he already knows: this European team is better than that European team. And, though Lehman might not admit it, this European team is better than this U.S. team.
 
Theyre hitting better shots; theyre making more putts; theyre holing out from off the green; theyre holing out from off the tee; they're having far more fun (which is easy to do when you're winning); theyre doing what they always seem to do.
 
Theyre doing everything that the Americans are not, which includes, most importantly, coming up clutch when a match is in doubt.
 
For a while Saturday afternoon, it looked like the U.S. might possibly crawl back into this event. They were leading three of the four foursomes matches early on. And, in the end, it was the Europeans who took 2 of the 4 points, as they have done in each of the first four sessions.
 
Over two days, various American teams have been leading after 14 holes and lost; leading after 15 holes and halved; leading after 15 holes and lost; all square after 16 holes and lost; and leading after 17 holes and halved ' twice.
 
The only U.S. team to win the 18th hole and wrest away some points was the one of rookie Zach Johnson and Chad Campbell, who were 1-down through 17 holes of their Friday foursomes and got a half-point against Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley.
 
Campbell also teamed with rookie Vaughn Taylor in Saturdays foursomes and came back from a 1-down deficit after 16 holes to earn a half.
 
Its not the rookies who havent come through for the Americans; its the veterans.
 
The four U.S. Ryder Cup newbies have gone 1-2-4 to net 3 points. Nothing spectacular, but far from abysmal.
 
Meanwhile, Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk, the Nos. 1 and 3 players in the world, have teamed four times to go just 2-2-0. Phil Mickelson is 0-3-1. Chris DiMarco is 0-2-1. David Toms is 0-2-1.
 
Outside of Woods and Furyk, Scott Verplank is the only player on the U.S. team with Ryder Cup experience to earn an outright win. He did so in Saturday mornings fourball session with Johnson ' and then was left out of the afternoon foursomes.
 
Verplank was a captains pick and played only once ' and, despite being selected because of his accuracy, wasnt used at all during the alternate-shot format.
 
But dont let questionable decisions or the Americans failures denigrate what the Europeans have done thus far. They have truly been spectacular through two days.
 
Now, they just have to get off to a good start on Sunday. Keep the crowd in it. Dont let the front-loaded Americans steal away momentum. Keep doing what theyve been doing.
 
Now, they just have to close it out. Go get that coffee.
 
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