How the Ryder Cup was won

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Published 24/09/2008 18:34:14
 

The USA Ryder Cup team eased to victory last week at Valhalla, winning 16½ to 11½ and were good value for victory. Although matters were a little closer than the score suggests, the US team got their noses out front early and never looked like letting their lead slip. How did they turn things around so emphatically?

 

Teamwork

 

Many column inches were taken up debating whether Tiger Woods' absence from the team would be a good or bad thing. Anyone would miss a player of his calibre, but would his absence further galvanise the team? We'll never know just what kind of effect it had, but the US played like a team rather than a group of stars.

 

"I think we actually became a family." Boo Weekley said of the team, and who could argue? Usually seen as a bit of a loner, Weekley was cheerleader for the tournament, whooping and fist pumping with the best of them. The crowd loved him booooooo came the shout after every shot.

 

The US team usually comes on stronger in singles play - and although this was again the case, they led day one and day two. Leading 9-7 going into singles play, they effectively had the trophy in the bag such was their belief in the squad. Just look at the performance of 23 year old Anthony Kim , he annihilated Segio Garicia - a past Ryder Cup stalwart for the Europeans.

 

"The Ryder Cup should be hard-fought competition and this year that's what it's back to being. I think the last two Ryder Cups, the Europeans have had exceptional results. We knew it was going to be a tight game. The Americans played really, really well.'' - Justin Rose, Europe

 

Home Support

 

Home support was crucial to the victory; before the tournament Azinger issued several rallying calls to Kentuckians to be the "13th man" and cheer their team on. Many in golf feel this goes against the nature of the sport and both captains had agreed their should be no "excessive partisanship" from the teams. However if you believe that you'll believe anything, Azinger knew the value of home support in not only encouraging his own players, but perturbing the Europeans. Star player Sergio Garcia twice had to back away from a shot near the water when a fan shouted "Go in the water".

 

Local hero and Kentuckian Kenny Perry was another figurehead and mascot for the team. "I figured this week was going to define my career. You know what? It made my career." Who could argue with him? Perry has been in excellent form this year despite missing the British Open in an attempt to secure Ryder Cup qualification. Who could argue this tournament means nothing to the US when players show such dedication? Perry finished the tournament with figures of 2-1-1.

 

National & Sporting Pride

 

The American team had taken two colossal beatings in the last two tournaments before 2008: both 18½ - 9½ margins hurt, a lot. Some even doubted the point of such a one sided competition, echoing the days of USA vs GB matches. But despite their underdog tag the US team were always going to fight tooth and nail to avoid another humiliation in front of their own fans.

 

If anyone doubts what the Ryder Cup means to US players and fans alike, look back to Brookline in 1999, one of the most over the top celebrations of all time. Many were appalled by this display and thankfully things were conducted with a little decorum this time. Sport is about passion, but this is golf - the attitude of the players sets it aside from other sports: It's a gentleman's game at heart.




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