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What I Took Away From The Ryder Cup
Whether you love this bi-annual competition or not, there's no question that the Ryder Cup provided golf viewers and fans with more drama...more highs and lows...than you get from any other televised golf event. The emotions run higher than with any major, and the players are more wrapped up in external pressures and influences than with any other event, in my opinion.

I'll admit that I didn't glue myself to the television for the endless hours of coverage, but I did watch enough to take away a few things that made me go "Hmmmmmmm". So, here are my sub-stories, so to speak:
  1. The pressure on the U.S. team is more intense. The Europeans are able to approach the Ryder Cup as a fun and challenging event and they play that way. They play for "team" and each other, but there is no real "European Union" that can rival the civic pride of any red-blooded American. The U.S. Team, on the other hand, is playing for each other and team, but also carrying the hopes of an entire nation on their backs. And as the years pass without a victory in the Ryder Cup, this element of pressure can only mount. Could there be a day when a player declines to subject himself to it? Hmmmmmm.

  2. I saw interesting choices. Whether or not to try to drive the short par 4 coming in. Hitting driver on 18 and putting the bunkers in play when you only need to halve the hole. I saw a number of choices made by players on both teams that made me wonder if they considered other options at all. In match play, on some holes you have to play to win...on others you only need to make sure you don't lose. I was puzzled by some of the choices that were made.

  3. Playing It Safe. Particularly in the home stretch, I saw few players take it at the flags on the long par threes, and the approach on 18. That's the kind of golf I was expecting to see when matches are tight. Give yourself high probabilities of par, and see if your opponent can hiccup a little to make that a great strategy. Unless you were playing against Ian Poulter, par golf down the stretch would have changed the outcome of several key matches.

  4. Chunked short shots. There were a number of "less-than-stellar" executions by both sides from short range. Chunked and half-skulled wedge shots and chips/pitches almost always give away the hole. It happens at the highest level, too, as we saw. The fact is, those shots that are partial swings are the toughest in golf for all of us. These tour pros are no exception. While they hit some shots that almost tore flags out of the green, there were a measurable number that were just lousy. Pressure affects these shots more than any other, so when you are in a "cooker", it's best to give yourself full-swing shots to improve your odds.
All in all, it was another riveting Ryder Cup. Three days of great drama, and very entertaining. I feel for our U.S. team, but give great kudos to the Europeans. They did what they had to do.

Was the Spirit of Seve the difference?
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[ comments ]
Gene306 says:
For once the pros didn’t play like wooden Indians. Players on both sides shown lots of emotions, they smiled, laughed and cheered. Not only their team mates but their opponents too; when they made a good shot. All of this made for good entrainment and showed that the pros are human too and not as I said wooden Indians USG but too much restriction on the players actions. I know that golf is a gentleman’s game but the USGA should let them show some emotions as long as their gentleman about.
10/2/12
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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