Collapse: Red, White, and Boo
Four point lead in Ryder Cup doesn’t hold up for American team
Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 4, 2012 11:10
Santa Clara senior Sameer Paul, an avid golfer, said, “There is nothing like Ryder Cup weekend,” and this past weekend was no exception. The Ryder Cup, a golf tournament played between the United States and Europe, is a unique event played every two years in a team format.
Last weekend, the U.S. team in the Ryder Cup blew a 10-6 lead heading into the final day resulting in a win for the Europeans and one of the biggest collapses in the 85-year history of the event.
The selection process for the Ryder Cup consists of a two-year points standings. Points are correlated to the amount of earnings each player makes during the course of the golf season (money is connected to a player’s performance in a tournament, which is why earnings are used as a magnitude for the standings).
About a month before the event, the top eight players in the U.S. standings automatically qualify which is then followed by the captain choosing four additional players, rounding out the team to 12 players.Europe has a similar selection process except the top 10 players automatically qualify for the team and the captain only chooses two additional players.
This past weekend, Medinah Country Club, located two hours outside of Chicago, was the host of the tournament. Medinah has been a friendly golf course to the U.S. in the past as it hosted the 1999 and 2006 PGA Championships, which were both won by Tiger Woods. It was again favorable to the U.S. during this year’s Ryder Cup. That is, until the last day of the tournament.
Even after facing a large defecit for the better part of the first two days of the tournament, there was still an excitement and energy in Europe’s team room Saturday night. Englishman Ian Poulter said he knew they were on the verge of something special. “The atmosphere was like we had a two-point lead,” Poulter said. “We’re four points down. You’re not going to turn around and say you’re going to win, but we knew we had a little chance.”
A chance, and belief, was evidently all they needed.
Point by point, Europe was able to win the early matches on Sunday, which not only spurred the biggest comeback in Ryder Cup history, but also silenced the week-long chants of “USA, USA, USA.”
Three late matches flipped in Europe’s favor on the last two holes, and 13 years after glumly watching the U.S. celebrate its epic comeback at Brookline Country Club, the Europeans had one of their own.
As the day came to the end, the American team left the course with glimpses of champagne flying and chants of “Olé! Olé! Olé!” ringing for the Europeans.
“It was a hell of a lot of fun being on the other end,” said Jim Furyk, one of the three Americans who were part of the Brookline squad. “It wasn’t very much fun today.”
Just as American captain Ben Crenshaw did at Brookline, European captain Jose Maria Olazabal front-loaded his lineup, sending out his best players first in hopes of building a wave of momentum that would lift the rest of the team. And just as it did at Brookline, the strategy worked perfectly.
“Coming down the stretch this afternoon, there was some amazing periods where you just didn’t hear anything on the golf course,” said Justin Rose, a South African-born English citizen. “That’s really what we were striving for.”
Without question, it was a week full of headlines at Medinah Country Club. Tiger Woods continued his Ryder Cup struggles by posting a record of 0-3-1.
Sophomore Matt Silvestri was disappointed in Woods’ performance.
“Although the loss is not completely Woods’ fault, he was clearly one of the anchors. He should be able to step up and get at least one victory for his country,” he said.
The struggling Martin Kaymer was the one to clinch the cup for the European team.
Another story that will be talked about for a while is how Rory McIlroy, the number one ranked player in the world, needed to be escorted to the golf course and arrived 10 minutes before his tee time on Sunday. He was under the impression Chicago was on Eastern Standard Time instead of Central Standard Time. McIlroy ended up winning his match on Sunday, but had he been late for his tee time, McIlroy would have been disqualified and the U.S. would have won the cup.
The only U.S. points on Sunday came from Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner.