Winning Isnt Everything


The American Ryder Cup team will be finalized next month. Yes, next month. Kind of snuck up on you, didnt it?
Time to start taking those point standings a little more seriously. Those players who figured all along to crack the top 10 are running out of time.
Meanwhile, if J.J. Henry, currently sixth in the American Ryder Cup point standings, makes the team, it will be a pleasant surprise. For a couple of reasons.
The 31-year-old Henry still hasnt played in a British Open, much less a Ryder Cup. But he is long off the tee, fearless as an athlete, team-oriented by nature and little-known across the pond.
If Henry and Zach Johnson and Brett Wetterich and Vaughn Taylor make captain Tom Lehmans squad, I will stand up and applaud. Its July, folks. The team will be picked after the PGA Championship at Medinah. All four stand an excellent chance qualifying by finishing in the top 10 in the point standings.
All four would be Ryder Cup rookies. And their presence would be the main reason why the Americans would show up for the matches in Ireland at the K Club as considerable underdogs.
This is not necessarily a bad thing for our side. The Europeans, perennial Ryder Cup underdogs, have lost just once in the last five Ryder Cup stagings.
The Euros know how to create an us against the world mentality. The Americans too often play like theyve got something to lose.
Give me Henry and Wetterich and Taylor and Johnson ... or Arron Oberholser for that matter.
Give me players who will show up on time for the meetings.
Give me players who will be happy with whomever Lehman teams them.
Give me players who will practice with their teammates (and not off site) in the days leading up to the competition.
Give me players who will not complain about this gala, or that function, or this requirement.
Give me players who will look upon the Ryder Cup as the opportunity of a lifetime, not the obligation of a lifestyle.
Lehman has said and done all the right things since being named captain. Thats because he is the right guy in the right place. His players will ultimately determine whether this is the right time.
Give me players happy to be there, hungry for the competition and thirsty for the honor of playing the Ryder Cup in a time when the inconvenience of having to wear a tuxedo the night before the matches pales in comparison to the life and death inconveniences that face American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan every minute of every enlisted day.
Henry won in Hartford Sunday, collected 375 Ryder Cup points and instantly showed up as a large blip on the standings radar screen.
Henry was full of joy and unabashed about showing it. You cant expect players to put on a face that they dont own. But it sure was fun watching Henry savor what he had just achieved.
Remember how Chris Rileys enthusiasm energized Tiger Woods in the match they won as partners at Oakland Hills two years ago? It was the single best moment of the 2004 Ryder Cup. And it was way too brief.
There is more than one way to win at the Ryder Cup. And the final point total doesnt always identify the best team.
Winning isnt everything.
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