Saturday, September 18, 2004

Ryder Cup

The European team dominated the opening eight matches and have a comfortable 61/2 to 11/2 lead.

I do not expect Saturday to be any better. US Captain Hal Sutton has justifiably resorted to reshuffling the line-up to try to create better chemistry among the pairings. The Phil Mickelson-Tiger Woods pairing generated zero points for Team USA. Mickelson has stirred a little controversy, albeit unintentionally, for switching equipment just two weeks ago, and then failing to participate in practice rounds and hob-knobbing with the fans. One has to wonder why Mickelson, in a year that was extraordinary -- Masters (W), US Open (2nd), British Open (3rd) and PGA Championship (T-6th) -- decided to change equipment. Phil, if it ain't broke, why are you trying to fix it?

Of course, Phil is not the first, and will not be the last, professional golfer to change equipment immediately after an extraordinary season. It seems like a rite of passage for golfers that elevate themselves to the next echelon. Fred Couples, Corey Pavin, Greg Norman, Ernie Els, and even Tiger Woods have changed some aspect of their equipment following break-through wins / seasons. Just wish Phil would have waited a few weeks to start experimenting.

Short of Hal Sutton whipping out a Knute Rockne-Gipper inspirational speech, I expect the US to trail at least 101/2 to 51/2. It is not inconceivable that Team Europe could sweep (or nearly sweep) the morning and afternoon sessions, thereby clinching at least a tie or outright win. If the US experiences another Friday on Saturday, Europe will need only one of twelve points on Sunday to win the cup. The possibility that Team USA could sweep the individual matches on Sunday is remote - akin to CBS admitting that Dan Rather is a forgery.

Hopefully, my pessimism is put to rest tomorrow - the US needs to close the gap and not have the pressure of having to win 10 matches on Sunday.

Go Team USA!!


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