Last Sunday, after a two-year soap opera, the final chapter of the 2016 Ryder Cup was written.
We learned the name “task force” which has the resounding impact of a military coup actually worked. A band of men merrier than in previous Ryder Cup competitions put on a display of golf second to none. Of course, it was complemented by an outstanding show by their opponents.
Birdies, eagles and impossible pars affect the scoreboards of Hazeltine National Golf Club. Fist-pumping, bowing and finger-wagging were the signs of the new era for the American Ryder Cup Team with captain Davis Love taking the win in that role.
Men wept and hugged each other, they pranced and danced as the champagne flowed. All is well in the homeland.
USA 17. Europe 11.
Prior to the tournament, there was a ‘celebration of life’ for golf’s great hero, Arnold Palmer. A plane swooped down from west to east away from a midday sun and deposited Arnie’s ashes onto the fairways of Latrobe Country Club.
As the small plane glided gracefully against the blue sky, the most vibrant, distinct rainbow arched high above grounded on both ends, reaching delicately but firmly skyward. The plane flew through it, then up and was gone.
Contrary to popular belief, the excitement of this year’s Ryder Cup began on Thursday not Friday, when Justin Rose challenged a bellicose heckler to join him on the putting green during a practice round.
In an effort to prove that putting is difficult under certain circumstances, Rose pinned a $100 bill to the green beside the ball about 15 feet from the hole. Make it and win the $100. Wouldn’t you know it? The guy holed it.
One major decision made by captain Love and Euro captain Darren Clarke was the course set-up. The choices were U.S. Open style (unplayable) or player friendly.
Opting for extremely difficult would be boring.
Points won with bogeys aren’t nearly as much fun as points made with birdies and eagles. Sunday’s singles matches were the most exciting exhibition of golf I have ever seen.
The Patrick Reed and Rory McIlroy exchange of heavyweight body blows was classic, but the tie between Mickelson and Garcia was superhuman and one of the finest matches of all time. Phil birdied 10 holes while Sergio answered with nine and they halved the match.
I do wonder why the Captains aren’t paid when the event makes millions. Sure, it’s an honour but it is also onerous, particularly for the losing side.
Play-through commercials are a good idea, but they need some tweaking and I enjoyed hearing some raucous fans were ejected.
This year finally saw victory for the Americans. They pulled out all the stoppers, but did the Europeans win something through a loss? The Euros fielded six young rookies to the USA’s one. If the task force is building a model for the future why so many established players?
Side stories like Danny Willet’s brother’s crazy editorial and Phil’s criticism of past captain Hal Sutton vanished once the first ball was struck.
In the end, everyone got what they came for – to see great golf – and, for what it’s worth, Phil Mickelson played a starring role in two of the greatest head-to-head matches of all-time this year: one in at the Open Championship and one at the Ryder Cup.