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Underdogs and Overachievers

In the weeks leading up to the Ryder Cup, the American media tried to paint a picture of the American team as underdogs in the challenge match. Sure they had lost the past two cups and their win at Brookline was some kind of miracle but seriously, how do you make a group lead by the Top 3 players on the planet an underdog.

Conversely the general consensus is that the European team consistently plays over their heads. Really? Do you really think that these guys can`t stand mano a mano to the likes of Tiger and Phil?

I heard a great quote this morning (written in the hours leading up to the Europeans trouncing of the Yanks). A listener to the internet broadcast of the Ryder Cup e-mailed in to say that the Americans were the better players but the Europeans were the better team. This is, after all, a team competition. Game. Set. Match.

Did you notice that from Tiger`s opening drive into the water on Friday up until Henrik Stinsen sunk the winning putt on Sunday, the Americans were playing like they had broom sticks stuck up their asses? Every putt they agonized over and every iron they struck seemed to be fraught with the same kind of consternation that Bush deals with when trying to deal with the axis of evil. Even having the Prez`s daddy on the grounds didn`t help.

I found it quite telling that every birdie putt that fell prompted a pump fist from the Americans as though they`d stuck another dagger into the Europeans bulging heart while other the other side, guys like Garcia, Monty and Clarke would look around in wonder after sinking their own birdies as if to say Å“Can you believe that that went in? It`s that kind of Everyman fulfillment the Euros display that puts the golf world squarely in their corner.

As for strategy, it`s hard for me to understand the American`s reasoning behind putting out their biggest guns in pairs. If you have players such as Woods, Mickelson (where has he been since the U.S. Open), Furyk and DiMarco, wouldn`t it be better to spread them out and make four strong pairings rather than two (presuming they can carry their own load)? The Europeans seem to derive most of their success from spreading the love around and not setting the players up as elitist. Hell, even Monty, the great American slayer, sat for the Saturday afternoon session to allow others to take their turns around the course.

By the way, did you ever wonder how far out of play that water on one was that Tiger hit? I swear to God, I can`t even remember there being a hint of that water when we played the K Club last year. And was it indicative of the whole week that Woods` caddy, Steve Williams dropped his nine iron in the pond at 11? If he was Michelle Wie`s caddy and did that, her agent would be on the phone with him today to send him packing to New Zealand.

All that being said, this years drubbing wasn`t as much fun as the one at Oakland hills because we`re getti8ng used to it. I can`t wait to see who the next Ryder Cup captain will be. Might I suggest Rich Beem, Fred Funk or Jason Gore? At least those guys know how to have fun and can relate to the rest of us.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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  • I disagree with the idea that the Euro’s seemed to look around as if to say “Can you believe that went in.” Do you recall Monty’s chip in? He raised his arms in the air and quickly went on to the next tee as if to say “Yeah, that’s right!” The only times I recall the European side looking at a shot with the expression of “Can you believe what just happened” was when the American’s were making shots/putts (i.e. Sergio after Cink was making all his bombs). Anyways, I guess my point is I don’t think the Euro’s are over achievers at all. What do you expect will happen when you have almost your entire team in the top 30 putters on the Euro tour sometime over the last two years and probably half in the top 15? Well…putts will be made. Fine, maybe the U.S. had great putters as well, but they underachieved. The Euros? Well they just achived what was expected.

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