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Sep 25

It’s Ryder Cup Time of Year

Finally it is time for the Ryder Cup to be played.  This event is one of the most exciting contests for me to watch as a PGA Golf Professional.  There are so many fond memories I have of the past 23 years of watching the Ryder Cup in the various golf shops.  I was first exposed to watching this event as a 23 year old working at my first golf course.  Tom Staples was my boss and the head pro at the time. Tom has a terrific sense of tradition and honor that goes with paying the game as he is from the New England area and was a Bob Ross disciple at Baltusrol GC.  Tom got so into the 1991 Ryder Cup that he got the staff these Aureus stars and stripes golf shirts that we wore as staff shirts.  I know there are some of you who know exactly what shirt I am taking about.  Well here is my recollection if the last 20 years or so of watching the Ryder Cup.

1991 Kiawah Island Ocean Course was like a prize fight to watch.  Heck, I had to look up who Dave Stockton was and he was our captain.  That course played so tough in the wind.  I still don’t know how Hale Irwin got such a good break from the fans on the 18th with the results of some of his shots.  Watching Marc Calcavecchia hit in the water on the 17th hole and limp it home for a half when he had his match under control was like watching a train crash.  Give Bernhard Langer credit for getting his match to the last green with a chance to win.

1993 at the Belfry had Tom Watson as the U.S. Captain. Tom just happened to be an Open Champion a few times.  We had the perfect man at the helm at a venue where spectators were ready to pick up after the previous Ryder Cup.  Poor Bernhard Langer was on the losing end again as his singles loss to Tom Kite was the deciding 14th point for the U.S. side to retain the cup.

1995 at Oak Hill CC reminds me of that saying from Capt. Lanny Wadkins, “horses for courses”.   Watching on the day of my oldest son’s christening, our guys stumble up the 18th hole.  The US squad lost five out of the last seven matches to lose the cup by a point.  Curtis Strange and Jay Haas both had me yelling at the television as my guests and wife were yelling at me!

1997 at Valderamma GC Seve Ballesteros was the Euro Captain.  Seve seemed to impose his will on the matches as he was seen everywhere driving his cart all over the course cheering on his guys.  Tiger putted off the green into the pond.  That 18th hole with the pond in front should be blown up and redone.

1999 at the Country Club in Brookline Mass.  What else do you have to say.  The Ben Crenshaw press conference and the wave of victories in the Sunday singles matches.  You can’t talk about this Ryder Cup without mentioning the winning putt by Justin Leonard.

2002 at The Belfry the matches were tied going into singles and Euro Captain Sam Torrance front loaded his lineup to take the matches out of our hands as Tiger and Phil went out in the last two matches with the Cup decided on the Mickelson loss.

2004 at Oakland Hills US Captain Hal Sutton wore that cowboy hat on the first day and paired Tiger and Phil together on Friday.  The U.S. got down early and never got back.  Enough said.

2006 at the K Club in Ireland the U.S. squad was a clear underdog after losing the two previous Ryder Cups.  The Euros won 8.5 out of 12 points in the Sunday singles.  The moment that stands out for me was watching Darren Clarke play just months after losing his wife to cancer.  Watching Clarke cry at the end is something I will never forget.

2008 at Valhalla GC the U.S. squad had Captain Paul Azinger at the helm.  Azinger created this pod system for his his guys to practice and play in.  Basically it was grouping like minded and like thinking people together.  The U.S. had a two point lead going into Sunday and Captain Nick Faldo of the Euro squad back loaded his line up and the tactic didn’t work and the U.S. won the Ryder Cup back.

2010 at Celtic Manor Resort Corey Pavin was the U.S. Captain and he picked these horrible rain suits that made the players look like baseball players from the 1950’s.  Terrible weather in Wales that week.  The competition came down to the last match of Sunday.  Hunter Mahan chunked a chip and lost his match 3 and 1 to Greame McDowell.  That was a tough loss for the U.S. side.

2012 at Medinah CC was the chance the U.S side had to really make a statement at one point leading the competition 10 to 4 and needing only 14.5 to win the cup back.  Here comes Ian Poulter who won a key match on Saturday with Rory McIlroy that got the team score to 10-6.  The Euros knew they could win, the U.S. side did it at The Country Club in 1999 being down by 4.  The Euros won 8.5 points on Sunday to storm back and win the cup 14.5 to 13.5.  That was a wave the U.S side just could not get out of the way of.

 So now we are about to write a new story for this event.  So many new faces on each side waiting to make their mark.  The hype reminds me of Super Bowl week.  How much more can the players talk about the course, their captain, their strategy and their uniforms.  Let’s tee it up and may the best team win this week.

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