A few final thoughts you might not have considered before the energy and the madness of the one-of-a-kind Ryder Cup descends upon us. Its the closest thing golf has to a Super Bowl Week:
The hottest player in the world this summer has been Tiger Woods, who also happens to be the best player in the world by approximately the length of the equator. But the hottest player of the moment is Euro Ryder Cupper Paul Casey who broke all kinds of records this weekend at the HSBC Match Play in London while dismantling a powerhouse field that included Woods.
Dont believe all that dissension stuff coming out of the European camp. Their team is far superior to the Americans in the art of psychological warfare. It wouldnt surprise me if the Ian Woosnam-Thomas Bjorn dust-up was a plot. If so, you can only hope the fine Bjorn is reported to have been assessed goes to buying their side better shirts.
Remember the Chicago Bulls teams that won all those NBA titles with Phil Jackson coaching from the bench and Michael Jordan coaching on the floor? The Americans will regain the Cup next weekend if Tom Lehman plays the Phil Jackson role and Woods plays Jordan.
Looking for a surprise star at the K Club? Try TCUs J.J. Henry. Henry grew up excelling in team sports. Hes gregarious. Hes unafraid. Hes long off the tee. And, as a rookie, has no bad memories of U.S. Ryder Cup defeats in his competitive hard drive.
The single most impressive stat going into the matches is the fact that Sergio Garcia has played in a foursomes match Friday and a foursomes match Saturday in all three of his Ryder Cups. He and his partner have won all six of those matches. Finding a partner in alternate shot for El Nino will be easy. Luke Donald is 2-0 in foursomes.
Everybody, including myself, was speculating that the best substitute for Scott Verplank, if Verplanks injury problems prevented him from playing in Ireland, would be Shaun Micheel. Micheel beat Tiger Woods at Wentworth last week and advanced all the way to the finals of the HSBC. But how about Steve Stricker? Hes a wonderful putter and procured his fourth straight top 10 Sunday at the 84 Lumber. This is the same Stricker who once won the Accenture Match Play.
Ever wonder why Colin Montgomeries lifetime record in the Ryder Cup is 19-8-5 including a sparkling 5-0-2 mark in singles despite the fact that Montgomerie never won a major or a PGA TOUR event? How about the fact that Monty, not always terribly popular among his fellow European Tour regulars, gets a built-in set of teammates for a week. Think of it as kind of a temporary security blanket. The team room, the theory goes, serves as a kind of golfing womb for Montgomerie. And it helps bring out his best golf.
The Ryder Cup is the most charged week in golf: People lucky enough to have tickets charge jackets. They charge rain suits. They charge hats. They charge another round of Guinness. This week in Ireland they will charge anything with a Ryder Cup logo or a shamrock on it. Exchange rate be damned.