Questions and Answers on Day One
Would Tiger begin to reverse his Ryder Cup fortunes?
No, and everyone seems to be at a loss to explain his 3-8-1 record. You certainly cant fault Tiger in the morning four-ball because he and Paul Azinger shot eight under. They simply got beat by the hot putting duo of Daren Clarke and Tomas Bjorn. In the alternate shot with Calc, Tiger missed some putts he normally makes. In general, Tigers opponents obviously get jacked to beat him. Plus, hes simply more vulnerable in a short, 18-hole match play sprint, particularly alongside a teammate who might be struggling, than he is in a 72-hole marathon. Odds tell you that at some point hell make the kind of magic hes made at so many majors. This remains the only big stage in the sport where hes yet to make his mark. On the bright side, the U.S. has to feel optimistic being down just a point after a day on which their superstar got blanked.
Would Mickelson and Toms be as formidable as many thought?
Absolutely. Toms is a gutsy little player. And Mickelsons a birdie machine. Interesting that it was Toms who beat Mickelson at the 2001 PGA Championship. David got a taste of what its like to play alternate shot with Phil when he had to go feet first into the water at six after Phil had splashed a tee ball. Mickelson, meanwhile, displayed some giant-sized golf balls by hitting the flop wedge off the putting surface at 18. Thats a shot you and I blade all the way to Ireland. In the end, their 3-down comeback against two of the greatest European Ryder Cuppers ever, Langer and Monty, changed the tenor of the day and gives the momentum edge heading to day two to the Americans.
Is Sergio the new Seve?
Maybe, though if Seve were to answer, knowing his legendary ego, hed likely say, Please, dont insult me. In any event, Sergio seems to bring out the best in any partner, whether its Lee Westwood this year or Jesper in 1999. Plus, hes full of emotion and fire, the latest in a long line of great Spaniards at The Ryder Cup.
What would the Europeans get out of Lee Westwood?
Plenty. Westwood was called, along with Hal Sutton, the weakest link in a magazine that previewed the Cup. He was stellar with those three backside birdies to close out his morning four ball, and he looks fitter and trimmer than weve ever seen. Ryder Cups are often won by surprise performers, and after day one, hes that guy.
Could Duval regain his form and be a factor?
No, at least not yet. Duval just hasnt been himself all year long. Emotionally, he seemed to have a difficult time early in the year after he split with his long-time companion. Hes sitting out the morning foursomes on Day 2, but keep in mind Duvals performance at Brookline in the Sunday comeback. He came out crazed, and smoked Jesper Parnevik. He may be struggling, but hes plenty capable and shouldnt be written off.
Whats Hals role?
Hals not at his best either. But not surprisingly he showed his moxie in the foursomes win alongside Scott Verplank. Sutton may not play again until Sunday, but he might be as valuable as any benchwarmer in history. His presence is that big. Its not a matter of will Hal Sutton be a captain someday, but when.
Would the course set up favor either side?
Yes. It favored the Europeans, and thats as it should be because its their home turf. The fairways are bowling alleys, negating the power advantage of the Americans. The greens arent quite as fast as those the Yanks play on the PGA Tour. But they used to say that when Notre Dame was playing at home against a faster team, theyd let the grass grow. Its called home field advantage, and its part of the charm of the Ryder Cup. And by the way, so much for all the talk that the Cup wouldnt have the edge in the wake of the postponement. Not only were the galleries well-behaved, the golf was superb and tension high. It remains one of the greatest events in sports.
Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys
“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.
Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.
If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.