| A Wild Ryder Cup
European Team captain Thomas Bjørn’s gamble for his wildcard picks did pay off big time.
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!
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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