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What I Took Away From The Ryder Cup
Whether you love this bi-annual competition or not, there's no question that the Ryder Cup provided golf viewers and fans with more drama...more highs and lows...than you get from any other televised golf event. The emotions run higher than with any major, and the players are more wrapped up in external pressures and influences than with any other event, in my opinion.

I'll admit that I didn't glue myself to the television for the endless hours of coverage, but I did watch enough to take away a few things that made me go "Hmmmmmmm". So, here are my sub-stories, so to speak:
  1. The pressure on the U.S. team is more intense. The Europeans are able to approach the Ryder Cup as a fun and challenging event and they play that way. They play for "team" and each other, but there is no real "European Union" that can rival the civic pride of any red-blooded American. The U.S. Team, on the other hand, is playing for each other and team, but also carrying the hopes of an entire nation on their backs. And as the years pass without a victory in the Ryder Cup, this element of pressure can only mount. Could there be a day when a player declines to subject himself to it? Hmmmmmm.

  2. I saw interesting choices. Whether or not to try to drive the short par 4 coming in. Hitting driver on 18 and putting the bunkers in play when you only need to halve the hole. I saw a number of choices made by players on both teams that made me wonder if they considered other options at all. In match play, on some holes you have to play to win...on others you only need to make sure you don't lose. I was puzzled by some of the choices that were made.

  3. Playing It Safe. Particularly in the home stretch, I saw few players take it at the flags on the long par threes, and the approach on 18. That's the kind of golf I was expecting to see when matches are tight. Give yourself high probabilities of par, and see if your opponent can hiccup a little to make that a great strategy. Unless you were playing against Ian Poulter, par golf down the stretch would have changed the outcome of several key matches.

  4. Chunked short shots. There were a number of "less-than-stellar" executions by both sides from short range. Chunked and half-skulled wedge shots and chips/pitches almost always give away the hole. It happens at the highest level, too, as we saw. The fact is, those shots that are partial swings are the toughest in golf for all of us. These tour pros are no exception. While they hit some shots that almost tore flags out of the green, there were a measurable number that were just lousy. Pressure affects these shots more than any other, so when you are in a "cooker", it's best to give yourself full-swing shots to improve your odds.
All in all, it was another riveting Ryder Cup. Three days of great drama, and very entertaining. I feel for our U.S. team, but give great kudos to the Europeans. They did what they had to do.

Was the Spirit of Seve the difference?
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[ comments ]
bducharm says:
Pressure will make even great players make stupid decisions. As far as the chunked short shots, I heard they were blaming the turf! Maybe their wedges weren't fit properly!!!
hjereza says:
Pressure bursts pipes!
GBogey says:
I noticed during the US Open most players could not resist the temptation to go for the short driveable par 4 even though it appeared to be an easy birdie for those who laid up. This was on a course where the winning score was +1! And of course Webb Simpson was one of the guys who laid up.
onedollarwed says:
Got my juices flowing, and while playing yesterday it helped me relax. We all feel some pressure on the golf course, but it's nothing compared to what they must have been feeling.
Shallowface says:
Terry, if you'd care to comment, in your opinion how many of these poor shots are equipment related? Don't most tour pros carry wedges that have nearly all of the bounce removed from the heel? I know that is desirable in certain situations, but it seems to lead to shots that are sometimes spectacularly good and often times spectacularly bad. It wasn't just during the Ryder Cup. One sees a lot of awful shots around the greens from the best players in the world on a weekly basis.
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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