Lets all justrelax. I mean, really, in this country, has all this death-grip tension about who will win the Ryder Cup, will we ever win again, who should be a captains pick ' has it done us any good?
Of course not. The United States has been horse-collared the last three tries. Captains who had good playing records have had their lifetime golf credentials called into question ' unfairly. Hand-wringing has become a national sport. Nagging questions compel insomnia, with grown men staring at the ceiling long into the night while their wives, free of worry about the mortgage thanks to the success of their golfer husbands, sleep peacefully. Are we the golfers we could be? Is the U.S. no longer carrying its world golf weight? Omigosh, what are we gonna dooooo?
In a pickle, its natural to seek the advice of the experienced. Digging through my file of guys who have been around the block a number of times, I nominatelets see.Jack Nicklaus.
'You give me Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk ' who are basically No. 1, 2, 3 in the world on our team ' and they just finished playing all the majors, and you say, 'O.K. guys, now we're going to do something important. We're going to play the Ryder Cup.' Come on; give me a break,' Nicklaus told the Independent of London last May 29. Two-time captain; should love the event, right? Sure.
'It's a great event, Jack continued. Is it different? Absolutely it's different. Is it exciting? Absolutely it's exciting. But it's a goodwill event. It's for bragging rights. I think the U.S. Open or the Masters or British Open offer a little bit more than bragging rights. You go back and tell me who won the Ryder Cup 10 years ago and who was the star player. You couldn't, not even close.
'I'm not trying to put down the event. It's great fun and I think it's great entertainment. But it's not, you know... the Masters or the PGA Championship.'
Dont you think thats worth a listen?
The man is right. Its majors that make a career, not ones record in biennial team exhibitions, even if one is a good match player. (Quick; how many majors does Nick Faldo have? Right; six. Now, whats his Ryder Cup record? Of course you dont know. Its 23-19-4, the best ever on either side.) Thats why Jack built his career around majors; its also why Tiger Woods, his heir apparent to the all-time major record, has done the same thing.
But there are other benefits to putting the cup in perspective, and its also simple. We need to take it easier about the Ryder Cup so we can enjoy it. Sure, its great drama when 24 very competitive people get together and try to best each other. Fans love it. The PGA of America and the European PGA make a ton of money. But the players have a right to have a good time too ' or at least they should have that right.
One of the best moments I saw in international competition was Woody Austin putting on the scuba mask at last years Presidents Cup. What, American golf having a sense of humor about itself? Getouddaheah. But it happened, and everyone loved it ' fans, players, TV, the PGA TOUR. Were all looking forward to more.
None of this means players shouldnt try hard or shouldnt get their game faces on at appropriate times. But theres a lot of time between shots. If someone smiles, gets the needle in, shares a laugh with an opponent ' in a world that could always use another dose of humanity, how could they go wrong? Heck, put Lee Trevino back in as captain (he served in 1985). Just the thought of that makes me grin. And whatever happens at the end, shake hands and lets get back to our day jobs. It will have been a great camp weekend in what is usually an individual sport. Lets have a beer, sing some songs and remember some shotsinstead of one team standing around like their dogs just died.
If the players enjoy it, we will enjoy it more. Everyone will be relaxed, happy, loose, ready to