By Steve Silverman
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Golf is not such a genteel game when the United States and Europe compete in the Ryder Cup.
The most recent edition at the Medinah Country Club in suburban Chicago looked to be a walkover for the United States during the first two days of the competition as the Americans were hooting and hollering and urging the crowd to cheer them on throughout the competition.
The most notable moment of the first two rounds may have been Bubba Watson urging the crowds to roar as he teed off on the first hole as if the Ryder Cup was some Southeast Conference football game.
It was all great theater and the U.S. golfers seemed up to the task for two days. But when the money was on the table on Sunday, the U.S. golfers stopped breathing.
The Americans had a huge margin as they took the course, but they proceeded to give it all back to the Europeans, choking on the final two holes in several of the matches that were all but won.
You want names? How about Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker and the great Tiger Woods. Furyk was up by one as he headed to the 17th against Spain’s Sergio Garcia. As Garcia went about his business, Furyk looked like he wanted to be any place but Medinah and on the golf course. He did everything but break down and start crying as he failed on both of those holes.
Then there was Stricker. He was on the team because of his mastery of the short game and his supposed partnership with Woods.
Stricker played like an 18-handicapper in his match with Martin Kaymer. His putting was atrocious, and it was never worse than it was when he had a lengthy putt on the final hole that would have given him a birdie.
Nobody expected him to make the putt, but it was so far off line that he never had a chance. His saving par putt was about 15 feet, and he somehow managed to roll it in.
That forced Kaymer to make his putt. He did and Europe celebrated.
Prior to the singles, Stricker and his buddy Tiger all but rolled over for the Europeans in the team competition. Much was made of Europe’s Nicolas Colsaerts sensational putting run on Thursday, but Stricker and Woods just couldn’t get it done.
Woods was in the clean-up position on Sunday, and it seemed that the U.S. would not need him to secure the victory. However, when the early matches slipped away, Tiger had to beat Francesco Molinari.
Woods name is associated with the all-time greats of the game. Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan and Arnold Palmer are in his foursome. Molinari could caddy for Woods in that grouping.
However, Tiger could not shake Molinari. He was up by one heading into the last hole and if Stricker could have halved his match with Kaymer, the U.S. would have needed Tiger to hold on to his lead to secure the Ryder Cup.
It wouldn’t have happened. Tiger may someday get back to his killer form, but he wasn’t close to performing at that level in this year’s majors or the Ryder Cup.
His mental game needs work, as does the mental game of his choking teammates.
Did the Americans blow it at Medinah Country Club? Sound off below…