Again, the Ryder Cup showed us how gripping and dramatic golf can be.
There was suffocating, intense pressure up and down the course for 15 individual matches. Ten of those went down to the final hole. Every club selection, every shot mattered.
The Europeans handled the pressure and the moment the best in retaining the Cup on American soil.
Recently, in the types of situations that presented themselves in the Ryder Cup, the Europeans have seemed to have the edge on the intangibles. They usually play better in the team concept.
They won this one “left-handed.” They had to rally in singles, those one-on-one matchups that the American golfers usually have the edge. And they had to win on foreign soil.
But, as the Europeans are prone to do on this stage, they found motivation in a cause bigger than themselves. They found an extra motivation, an extra drive in trying to win one in memory of Seve Ballesteros, one of Europe’s best and most popular golfers and a former Ryder Cup star and captain, who died earlier in the year to cancer.
The Europeans literally wore their emotions on their sleeves, with Ballesteros’ caricature on their golf shirts.
Once, they started getting traction after trailing 10-4 in points (the push beginning with an incredible effort by Ian Poulter), the Americans wilted in a series of discombulations on the 17th and 18th holes.
Once things started unraveling, the U.S. vulnerabilities were evident. They found themselves without a stabilizer, an anchor.
Tiger Woods? He again proved he’s now very beatable — even on Sunday — and his Ryder Cup record is awful.
Phil Mickelson? He’s prone to sudden meltdowns at any time
Jim Furyk, a captain’s pick by Davis Love, should have been one of the Americans’ steadiest golfers but his mental state was shaky after his unraveling in the U.S. Open. This year, he was not the guy to have toward the end of the singles lineup with the pressure mounting.
Steve Stricker was a captain’s pick because he’s one of the best putters on tour. Sunday, he could not make a putt and made some woeful decisions about the line on many.
Sunday, I’ve never seen so many professionals spend so much time trying to read critical putts, then miss the line so terribly.
I’ve also never seen so many normally composed professional golfers so emotional at critical junctures.
It came down to nerves and who best handled them.
And while things were even — or even at times the U.S. golfers had things going their way physically — the Europeans handled the mental aspect much better.
They knew how to grind. But they also knew how to find another gear and surge through the open doors.
Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 505-1235 or email@example.com