Wednesday, August 13, 2008

US Ryder Cup Chances

Anything can happen, but what's most likely to happen? Let's look at the facts the best we can. The Europeans certainly are the favorites having won five out of the last six competitions. Maybe they haven't always had the best players on paper, but they have the winning formula in mindset and team play. They will be the most confident because of their dominant play over more than 20 years even when they've been out gunned. They'll have less pressure on them because they come from many different countries and don't have an overbearing 'you're playing for your country' attitude. They have a laid back coach in Faldo. He knows what it takes to win, which is to leave your pro players alone and make sure they enjoy themselves. He knows how to play to win, but has never lost sight of the fact that 'it's just a game'. And they have three solid anchors on the team in Harrington, Westwood and Garcia.

Can the US Team win? Certainly, anything can happen in golf as in most sports. The US has many great players on the team in the first 8 that have been announced. There's enough new blood that they won't be affected by the last 24 years - unless Azinger makes the mistake of shoving it down their young throats. Without Tiger, they are missing the solid closer. Phil always plays with too many ups and downs over the course of three days. You never know which Phil is going to show up on the next tee, he doesn't have the killer/closer instinct of Tiger and who do you pair him with.

What does the US Team have going for itself? For one, a really interesting blend of old standbys and exciting new talent. Then you might include a laid back 'best thing to happen to golf' guy in Rocco Mediate. Add in to that mix Kenny Perry, a good ole boy who has made it this years goal to play in front of his home state fans in Kentucky and who then proceeded to tear up the US tour. Azinger's job is to take the 'must win' monkey off these guys back and tell them he wants them to have the time of their lives. Imagine Rocco cracking his jokes, Boo Weekly blasting 350 yard drives and Phil playing with just one driver and four wedges. Let these guys work the crowd, sign some autographs and give a few high fives. Tell them the most important thing they have to do is smile. And then throw in a Woody Austin in full scuba gear. Do that and we'll have a competition worthy of watching, regardless of who wins.

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