DEALING WITH PRESSURE he pressure dynamic has always fallen in favour of Europe.America is still the world’s most dominant golf nation, always has the most star players, and as such always resides as the favourite in the collective mind. It’s why the Europeans seem to enjoy the Ryder Cup more, and why – in the opinion of knowledgeable insiders – the Americans do more choking in the Ryder Cup than any other event.
How to get the pressure off, or make it manageable, is the primary challenge of the captain. Especially in the past two decades, all sorts of approaches have been tried, from 2006 captainTom Lehman’s let’s-talk-aboutit group therapy to the Watson’s Darwinistic challenge: Can you handle it?
Paul Azinger, harder than Lehman but more collegial thanWatson,seemed to strike an effective middle ground on his winning team in 2008.“In the Ryder Cup, the players have to be ready to be more nervous than they’ve ever been,” he says. “If you think you’ll be able to pretend the pressure isn’t there, it will hit you even harder. I told them to accept all of it in advance, and get them to understand that if you’re thinking the right way, it can actually help you play better.”
Love’s approach to handling pressure has been more like Lehman’s – as a player and in his sounding-board roles as captain and former assistant.Will his players consider the loss when he was captain at Medinah something to avenge, or somehow an extension of the too many times Love didn’t close as a player? At the same time, the assistant captains at Hazeltine will presumably be more proactive, and one of them – Woods – happens to be the ultimate hardhearted closer.
One thing is sure: If the Americans lose, the cause and effect of the task force will be judged negatively.And the analysis – and the criticism – will be more intense than ever. Saturday, Oct 1 Same format and times as Friday. Sunday, Oct. 2 Twelve singles matches, starting at 5.54pm SA time. SCORING Each match is worth one point, with matches ending in a draw worth ½ point to each side. The first team to reach 14½ points wins the Ryder Cup. If the matches end in a 14-14 draw, Europe, as the defending champion, would retain the cup. US TEAM (8 TO DATE) J B Holmes Dustin Johnson Zach Johnson Brooks Koepka Phil Mickelson Patrick Reed Jordan Spieth Jimmy Walker Davis Love will select three of his four captain’s picks on Sept 11 at the conclusion of the BMW Championship, and his final pick on Sept 25 after the Tour Championship. FUTURE RYDER CUP VENUES 2018 Le Golf National, Versailles, France 2020 Whistling Straits (Straits), Kohler, Wisconsin 2022 Marco Simone G&CC, Rome 2024 Bethpage Black, Farmingdale, New York RESULTS The United States has a 25-13-2 record overall, but since the Great Britain & Ireland team added the rest of Europe in 1979, the Europeans are 10-7-1, including consecutive wins at Celtic Manor, Medinah and Gleneagles. 2014 STATISTICS Key statistics in Europe’s 16½-11½ victory at Gleneagles: • In 462 holes, Europe won 119 holes to the US team’s 104, taking the first lead in 16 of 28 matches. • On matches going to the last three holes, Europe had a 15-11-20 advantage. • On matches going to the 18th hole, Europe led, 5-4-2. • The teams tied on par 3s (21-21-57) and par 4s (66-66144). On par 5s, Europe led, 32-17-38. • Europe led in holes won with a birdie or better (86-76) and holes won with a par (3327). The US team won the only hole captured with a bogey or worse. HAZELTINE AMONG THE 100 GREATEST Hazeltine is ranked 86th among Golf Digest’s 100 Greatest Courses in the United States. MAJOR EVENTS AT HAZELTINE Ryder Cup 2016 PGA Championship 2002, 2009 US Open 1970, 1991 US Women’s Open 1966, 1977 US Senior Open 1983 US Amateur 2006