| A Wild Ry­der Cup

Euro­pean Team cap­tain Thomas Bjørn’s gam­ble for his wild­card picks did pay off big time.

HK Golfer - - Contents - By The Kilted Caddie

Now, the Kilted Caddie is not averse to the odd gam­ble ei­ther. In fact, a good friend is a very suc­cess­ful pro­fes­sional gam­bler on the gee-gees, and I am rather into it. How­ever, I made a rather poorly judged move in bet­ting on a U.S. win af­ter the first day’s play of the Ry­der Cup, when their odds jumped to four to one. How­ever, this was a mas­sively mis­judged punt, for the re­ceived wisdom that the Amer­i­cans should be the favourites in Paris was wrong.

A real pro­fes­sional golf gam­bler would have re­alised this at the out­set. Let’s look at the un­der­ly­ing fac­tors. Firstly, the tight course which is the per­ma­nent home of the French Open and is an in­te­gral part of the Euro­pean Tour. Our guys all know this track well. It is a for­mi­da­ble and ex­act­ing test of golf and pays to be stud­ied. Se­condly, the weather. Paris in late Septem­ber is likely to be much more favourable to us hardy Euro­peans. Re­mem­ber, we don’t drink like a fish for no rea­son. Next, the crit­i­cal home crowd fac­tor. Now, this turned out to be not so much a plus for us but a mas­sive neg­a­tive for the U.S. team. Amer­i­cans per­form a whole lot bet­ter when all that whoop­ing, and rant­ing and cheer­lead­ing thing is go­ing on. It’s in their DNA. Look at Amer­i­can pol­i­tics and the fi­asco that is a Trump rally or go to a foot­ball game. All this boozy bravado and candy floss, ban­nered cheer­ing is deeply em­bed­ded in the Amer­i­can psy­che. I think this goes a long way to ex­plain the twen­ty­five-year pe­riod since the last U.S. win on Euro­pean soil.

A small note on the U.S. Team wall, how­ever, spoke vol­umes and hinted at a more fun­da­men­tal and en­trenched mat­ter. ‘Leave your egos at the door’ it pro­claimed. Now that’s wor­ry­ing, for in a team event that is the epit­ome of team events this was dis­qui­et­ing mo­ti­va­tional fod­der. It points rather glar­ingly at a sig­nif­i­cant and deep­rooted is­sue in the camp and cer­tainly seemed to have a rather neg­a­tive ef­fect on poor Tiger. He stomped around Le Golf Na­tional for four days with the ex­pres­sion on his face of a child who has thrown his rat­tle out of the pram.

So, it very much looks like a Tiger with­out ego is not a good thing. He was cer­tainly not a Happy Hec­tor. In fact, he seemed per­ma­nently on the verge of burst­ing into tears. Jim, give it to him back.

It didn’t help a lot ei­ther in Jor­dan Spi­eth mak­ing it clear that he didn’t want to play

with the in­di­vid­ual that is Pa­trick Reed. That dec­la­ra­tion is not go­ing to do a whole deal of pos­i­tive for the all-im­por­tant dress­ing room at­mos­phere. You know the team spirit thing.

I won­der if they talk to each other? In fact, I re­ally do won­der at the whole Amer­i­can Team dy­namic, and I can’t help feel­ing that it’s not a patch on the en­ergy, en­thu­si­asm and bon­homie that shone through ev­ery Euro­pean mem­ber. That’s a big deal. Yes, the Amer­i­can golfers just don’t seem to be able to get the team thing at all, and a good few looked like they would rather not be there, in truth.

They par­al­lel the clas­sic French wine dic­tum in that it tastes won­der­ful at home but loses in the trans­porta­tion. To dwell a bit on one of my favourite lit­tle metaphors, I would say that this finely bal­anced, oaked and plummy Napa Val­ley red had de­cided hints of vine­gar when it landed at Charles de Gaulle. In­deed, I would say this vin­tage en primeur (for it surely was vin­tage and en primeur) also lost its la­bel once that note went on the team door. Ooh La La. What a faux pas!

But fur­ther, what on earth made Jim Furyk choose Phil Mick­el­son as a wild­card? That was just wild and made as much sense, ra­tio­nale and clar­ity as vot­ing Judge Brett Ka­vanaugh onto the Supreme Court. Not as bad of course, but pretty mad.

Phil Mick­el­son has one of the worst driv­ing ac­cu­racy records on the PGA TOUR this year, and Le Golf Na­tional is a very tight course. More­over, Phil has hardly been on form as of late. My non-golf­ing grannie would have cho­sen Xan­der Schauf­fele over Phil, and she’s wild. That was just a ridicu­lous choice.

Also ques­tion­able was the in­clu­sion of Bryson Decham­beau. How­ever, I have a the­ory that Mr Furyk is rather a fan of the un­ortho­dox swing and also may have be­lieved that a French sur­name in the line up was por­ten­tous, or at least may have swung a few of the na­tives and may be called a long shot dou­ble bluff on the home sup­port an­gle. You can al­most hear it ‘Decham­beau is two up. Bien!’

Any­way, that’s enough for poor Jim and the thwarted and se­verely chal­lenged U.S. Ry­der Cup golf team. Very well done to Bjørn the gam­bler and his pumped up and highly in­spired team. There is hope for Europe yet.

But please don’t let me get started on our pol­i­tics!

Please go to thek­ilt­ed­cad­die.com to find out more about The Kilted Caddie.

Paul Casey was one of the four Euro­pean play­ers been given Ry­der Cup wild­cards by Team cap­tain Thomas Bjørn

Phil Mick­el­son and Bryson Decham­beau com­pare notes on a green at the 2018 Ry­der Cup

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