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Yoo Ess Ay, Yoo Ess Ay. Yoo blew it. Yet Again.
WILL those Americans ever learn? Golf stateside has barely ventured out of its greenside bunker since Europe pulled off what’s been labelled the Miracle of Medinah – overturning a four-point overnight deficit to retain the Ryder Cup 14½-13½ in Chicago.
The success of Jose Maria Olazabal’s doughty men in the final day singles, when they won 8½ of the 12 points on offer, has seen scribes scurrying to find the achievement a natural place in sport’s greatest comebacks.
But, for me, the come-from-behind heroics were as much about American failings as they were about European heroics. Because when it comes down to it, the Yanks just always make it too easy for us.
At 10-4 down on the second day, with Davis Love III’s men treating the Medinah holes like they were huge buckets – and smashing the ball around the Number 3 course with abandon – it looked like they might coast to victory.
And I think the US team really believed that as well.
Cue Ian Poulter’s blazing back nine, with birdies on the last five holes, as Europe won the last two matches of the Saturday four-balls to claw their way back to 10-6.
What struck me about the immediate aftermath of Poulter’s heroics was how energised the rest of his team-mates suddenly looked. Downcast and downbeat for much of the day, Graeme McDowell among the most forlorn, the Europeans had a new verve. They were revitalised.
Pity the American team didn’t take too much notice.
ESPN columnist Gene Wojciechowski certainly wasn’t watching.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but he performed the literary equivalent of hitting yourself in the face with a custard pie when, on Saturday night, he suggested that Keegan Bradley needed to be abducted and Marty McFly had to show Olazabal how to travel back in time if Europe were to be victorious.
“Never mind,” he wrote. “It’s over. Olazabal can click off the walkie-talkie and take the IFB out of his ear. Time for the Europeans to fire up the private jets and head back home to Florida.”
He’s looking pretty stupid now, but the Americans have form for this kind of thing.
Take the 1989 matches at The Belfry, for example, when American captain Ray Floyd managed to upset an entire continent by referring to his team as the “12 greatest players in the world”, forgetting, of course, that the world number one at the time, Greg Norman, didn’t actually play for either side.
In 2004, meanwhile, Hal Sutton believed that all he had to do to win back the trophy was keep pairing Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson together – a duo whose frosty relationship would bring new meaning to the term “cold war”.
When that didn’t work, he donned a Stetson.
So, on Super Sunday at Medinah, Europe found some belated momentum and Olazabal invoked the spirit of Seve.
Even then, though, the Americans were determined to give their opponents a helping hand.
For as much as the visitors played brilliantly to bridge the gap, with Luke Donald, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy and Poulter in particular the cheerleaders for the Europeans, Love III’s men were just as culpable in this most brilliant of fight-backs.
Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker both looked lost in the closing holes of their matches against Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer – a man who would teach those renowned putters a thing or two about getting it in the hole at the death – while Matt Kuchar crumbled to a Lee Westwood who was so out of form he could have caddied for his partners over the first two days such was his contribution to the scorecard.
Brandt Snedeker looked like he had suddenly realised, a week late, that he’d won $11 million the week before when scooping the Fedex Cup – and was thinking about which supercar to buy – as Paul Lawrie crushed him 5&3.
That ugly cry of “Yoo Ess Ay, Yoo Ess Ay”, a refrain which never fails to irritate the rest of the globe, was silenced, along with a raucous crowd which, on the whole, was partisan but respectful aside from a few idiots.
We just can’t help bristling when America gets overconfident. To us, it smacks of arrogance. For them, it’s a showing of national pride. However it makes us feel, though, we play a darn sight better when we think we are sticking it to them.
So keep dressing up in your Captain America outfits, unfurling those Stars ‘n’ Stripes and screaming ‘Get in the hole!’ For as long as the USA never learns, the Ryder Cup can continue to shine as Europe’s finest hour.
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