Story 2 Long Time Coming

RSS

Top 10 StoriesFor a short time in September, a golf tournament became more than a golf tournament. It became the closest thing we have in this sport ' and in this country ' to the Olympics.
 
Yielding gasp-inducing moments for seven days, the event remarkably still retains its grasp on our memory banks even now, many months removed. Its nearly impossible to forget the emotion, the intensity and the patriotism elicited in the back hollows of Kentucky that week.
 
Because, forged just down the road from historic Louisville, at a place called Valhalla, for the first time since 1999, the Americans triumphed at the Ryder Cup. And every golf fan felt like they were a part of it.
 
Anthony Kim
Anthony Kim spurred the U.S. team on with his singles victory over Sergio Garcia. (Getty Images)
There was U.S. captain Paul Azingers sublime mix of passion and genius. There was Boo Weekleys comic relief. There was Kenny Perrys vindication. There was Anthony Kims energy; Hunter Mahans emergence; Justin Leonards resurgence and J. B. Holmes sheer power.
 
Likewise, on the other side of the aisle, storylines were woven into a riveting script played out on a bluegrass stage. Nick Faldo took the role as Black Bart, the European captain the Americans could ' to paraphrase Paul Casey ' properly hate. A pied Ian Poulter added a feistiness at a level even he had not prior exhibited. The Englishman may have hit more important shots than any player on either side during that week. And there was the curious absence of a full-point match win by Europes top gun trio Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington and Lee Westwood.
 
Then there was Sunday.
 
Words written for this Web site, in the intoxicating moments that followed the American victory, perhaps best capture that day:
 

'Sunday at the Ryder Cup is a riot of colors; a cooker of pressure; a cauldron of noise; an orgy of national pride; a stampede of fans-gone-wild and a spicy hot mixed grill of emotion and tension for the protagonists.
 
Once you have witnessed one, even if you dont know a halve from a half, as long as you fancy the game, you will be addicted. The winner, at the end of this exhausting, long days, flag-waving journey into night, lays claim to the biggest and best bragging rights in all of golf.
 
That winner Sunday at Valhalla Golf Club was the United States of America by a decisive margin of 16-11. The runner-up was Europe.
 
There were no losers in the strictest sporting sense. But a baked dozen of Europes best players dont really want to hear about that right now. '

 

What a wild week it was. The Europeans knew the crowd would be partisan. But how many really understood what it was like to play golf in an environment more suited to an SEC football game?
 
In fact, the best description of Ryder Cup play heard all week came from broadcaster Renton Laidlaw, in his usual economy of words. Gladiatorial, said the Scotsman.
 
At one point there was a rumor floating around that George 41 Bush gave Weekley a man-hug Saturday afternoon. Great country, isnt it? Kenny Perry, for his part, had a score to settle with the critics who had ripped him for skipping several important events earlier in the season in an effort to build his schedule around the Ryder Cup.
 
It wasnt until October that Azinger, still unwinding, admitted a major regret. Theres only one thing I would have done differently at Valhalla, Azinger said. And that would have been making sure I was on the tee box on the 18th hole in the Friday afternoon fourballs match when Boo Weekley and J.B. Holmes both hit their balls in the water. If I had been, I would have made sure they knew where their tee balls needed to be.
 
I was really kicking myself Friday night, Azinger told FM104.3 The Fan, a Denver-based sports talk radio show. I was by the 17th green and I couldnt get my cart to the 18th tee because of a TV tower. I should have gotten off the cart and just walked through the tower. Fortunately for me, that was my only regret for the week.
 
Yes, the four majors, each for their own distinct reasons, are indeed important and compelling. But the Ryder Cup, more than any other event in golf, is the most mesmerizing; one in which you cannot bear to leave your living room for fear of missing something. To those of us who truly believe that this event is the Super Bowl of golf, the 37th Ryder Cup was a reaffirmation.
 
Successful Ryder Cup teams are like bands of brothers. The more their backs are against the wall, the harder they will fight. This is not to suggest the Americans were better off without Tiger Woods, who was recuperating from reconstructive knee surgery in June. Such a notion is nonsense. But it does strengthen the suggestion that captain Azinger did, in fact, push all the right buttons in Kentucky. And not only were the players lucky for it, so were the fans of golf.
 
Related Links:
  • Top 10 Stories of the Year archive