The Lessons of RTJ


Lessons. There were so many of them. So much instructive information came out of the sixth Presidents Cup. And we must not forget these lessons, going forward in the game of team golf, which, by the way, should never be confused with individual golf.
Lessons, like the fact that golf at its highest and most scrutinized level doesnt always have to be played with the volume turned all the way up to 10. Thursday and Friday at the Presidents Cup, on the course, were full of quiet intensity accompanied by stout play. It was every bit as terrific, as theater, for its spare brilliance as the Solheim Cup was, as theater, for its unprepossessing celebration.
Lessons like the fact that the question a reporter asked of American captain Ben Crenshaw six years ago at the Ryder Cup finally has an answer.
The question was: Ben, why is it so hard to find a partner for Tiger Woods?
The answer, we finally now know was this: Because nobody thought to pair him with Jim Furyk, a less outwardly emotional player, but one whose pilot light produces the same blue flame as Woods.
And if you dont think the most important moment of this Presidents Cup was late Saturday morning when Woods and Furyk willed their way to winning the last two holes against Stuart Appleby and Vijay Singh to gain a stunning halve, then you simply werent paying attention.
Woods and Furyk will be partners in these things for as long as they can stand on the same tee box together. Same goes for Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco.
The putt DiMarco holed on the last hole to beat Stuart Appleby and clinch the Cup late Sunday was remarkable. But it was just one part of an improbable up-and-down from an awkward stance with a lousy lie from the rough that was worlds more amazing than just the putt itself.
DiMarco continues to refuse to allow himself to be ignored on golfs big stages. He has been there at the last two Masters. He was there at the 2004 Ryder Cup, the 2004 PGA Championship and the 2005 Accenture Match Play. Sure, he could have won more than he has. But it is impossible to ignore his presence and his appetite for important moments.
In a world where a lot of people have, unfairly, decided its not hip to be American, Chris DiMarco is as American as you will find on the PGA Tour. Every movement he makes shouts in your face that he is not going away. Neither, he will tell you, is America.
So his partner, as long as they can stand in the same tee box together, will be Mickelson. And dont think the Europeans, who will oppose the U.S. next year in Ireland at the Ryder Cup, didnt notice this.
We learned that David Toms and Kenny Perry didnt quit Sunday when they could have. We learned that Justin Leonard has always been an undervalued resource as a team player.
And, on the International side, we learned how really good Retief Goosen is and that his taut singles victory over Woods was an instant classic before it even concluded. An injured Ernie Els was sorely missed. Vijay Singh, needs to putt well to play great.
The Internationals fight their fight in the Presidents Cup with less fanfare and less guile than do the Europeans in the Ryder Cup. And, as strong as they are, it is hard to believe they have won just one Presidents Cup in six tries.
The Presidents Cup is not perfect yet. The powers-that-be need, among other things, to restore what they promised us at the conception of this event: That there would never be a team tie at the end of Sundays play.
But through trial and error'lessons that had to be learned the hard way'the Presidents Cup is finally comfortable inside its own skin.
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