Two weeks after the Euros pummeled the Americans, 18 to 9, at Oakland Hills, Ian Poulter had a large batch of tees made up. The Euro Ryder Cup rookie then distributed them to his teammates, requesting them to sprinkle them around the tee boxes at Mt. Juliet, site of the WGC-American Express Championship.
Each peg had the inscription: Europe 18 on one side and USA 9 on the other.
Just a bit of fun, Poulter reportedly told 'The Sun,' a UK newspaper.
Fair enough, I suppose. But Poulter shouldnt be surprised next week when he finds his reception on the range a little frosty at the Funai Classic at the Walt Disney World Resort. The colorful Poulter has received a sponsors exemption for that event. But he may not be exempt from a chill from the Americans in the event.
Meanwhile, support quietly gathers for Larry Nelson as next American Ryder Cup captain. The PGA is expected to name Hal Suttons successor for the 2006 matches in Ireland sometime soon. Nelson will be 59 by then. His style would be in direct contrast to Suttons. But dont forget, Nelson has won three major championships (three more than the entire European team this year) and he went 5-0 in Ryder Cup play in 1979, including four wins in four tries against Euro Ryder legend Seve Ballesteros.
Finally, the e-mails are ceaseless on the subject of why the Americans struggle so mightily in the Ryder Cup.
The best one I have received so far comes from David Jeffrey. A few excerpts:
. . . . To me, taking an American-born golfer and putting him in the Ryder Cup is like forcing a round peg into a square hole. It is not their personality. Its forced and on top of that its a must-win pressure cooker with the eyes of the world watching. . . .
. . . . The Euros, on the other hand, are suited to the Ryder Cup format like a well-worn pair of jeans. Its an all for one, one for all mentality that is unegotistical. . . .
. . . . I couldnt help thinking, as the matches wound down, that if the PGA took its middle tier of players, even upper middle tier; guys with experience, guys with a little less ego, guys who are relying on each other a little more to get by, we might be more competitive. Guys like Scott McCarron, Tim Herron, Steve Pate etc.
. . . . Back in the days when Floyd, Watson, Kite, Irwin, Lee, Arnold and Jack were at the top, the money was still at a point where they werent corporations unto themselves. They still relied on each other a little more. They still had some struggles - not like the average American - but struggles nonetheless. Some probably play the Champions Tour to maintain their current lifestyle. Do you think Tiger, Phil and David will have to? No.
. . . . The Euros are Robin Hoods band of merry men, all willing to fit into the mix and fight for the cause.
. . . . For the Euros, the sum of the parts is much greater than the whole. For the U.S., too many good cooks are spoiling the broth.
Actually, I think Jeffrey meant the whole is greater than the sum of the parts in this instance. But you get the idea.
Point is, never underestimate the power of the underdog. If Im the next captain of the U.S. Ryder Cup team, the movie I show my players the Thursday night before the matches begin is the one about the U.S. hockey team at the 1980 Winter Olympics.
Then I hand them each a bag of tees, as a reminder, that simply say, Miracle on Ice.
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