September 29, 2002

Did TV schedules lose US the Ryder Cup?: Europe regain the Ryder Cup, in a typically close thrilling finish: 'Only the birth of my children surpasses this,' said winning captain Sam Torrence. Great golf on all sides (Azinger's bunker shot, in particular) and a wonderful spirit (mea culpa after my earlier snarks) but you have to question Curtis Strange's decision to load the bottom of the singles with his big hitters, while Torrence put his best players in the top matchups. Was it governed by pressure, as speculated on the BBC, to have Tiger and Mickelson playing at a more favourable time for US television audiences?

posted by etagloh to golf at 11:00 AM - 4 comments

Nah, not tv pressure - look at the way that the draw played out, if the big hitters down the bottom for the US had won their matches, for instance Mickelson against Price, then Woods would almost certainly have been playing for the cup/it would have been sewn up by then. Fair enough tactics, especially in view of what happened in the singles last time.. Thoroughly enjoyable fair - for me matchplay beats by far normal golf - the sheer atmosphere if nothing else.. This will be excellent for European golf, and hopefully the tournament will be every bit as astoundingly good in 2 years time. I reckon this is one of the best sporting occasions aside from the world cup, anyone with me on that one?

posted by Mossy at 02:52 PM on September 29, 2002

Fair enough tactics, especially in view of what happened in the singles last time. See, there I disagree with you: Brookline proved that momentum is everything on the singles round, as players get the lift from what precedes them. And the European team got steamrollered in 1999, losing the first six singles, so it was obvious that Torrance would play the big guns up front to 'set the table', to use the baseball phrase. In the end, Tiger was, as the Radio 5 commentator said, a bit like the bonus track tagged onto the end of a CD. And I can't help thinking it was done with the American audiences in mind. But yeah. as sporting event, it's such a great summer's end. Not 'pure' golf, but pure, fine-spirited competition, challenging all the punditry and cynicism.

posted by etagloh at 03:17 PM on September 29, 2002

The TV issue is tinfoil hat-style speculation. I would be willing to bet that if you looked back on past Ryder Cups -- excepting 1999 -- you'd see that captains almost always saved their best players for the end. And while in hindsight it's obvious that Torrance front-loaded the matches, I don't think it was a foregone conclusion that he would do so. Another thing -- Curtis Strange is a broadcaster for ABC, which is a rival of NBC. I don't think Strange would go out of his way to help NBC's ratings. Yet another thing -- Curtis Strange is way too competitive and proud to think of anything other than winning. If he made those pairings for TV ratings, I think he would have hung himself in his hotel room last night. All that aside, it was a fantastic tournament. My hat's off both to the European team and to the European fans. Excellent all around. (On reconsideration, I don't think I'll take my hat off to Sergio Garcia, though).

posted by jmpeterson at 09:54 AM on September 30, 2002

I'm not a golf fanatic, but I thoroughly enjoyed the live coverage of the singles. It was a welcome change to see the jingoism scaled back, to the extent that the sport was the important thing. The Europeans played well. Far better than I thought they were capable of, to be honest. There's no doubt in my mind that Strange was concerned only with winning. Whether the line-up made a difference in the end is a moot point. Who could have predicted that Philip Price would beat Phil Mickelson? If the result of that match had gone to form, the Americans would probably have retained the trophy. Overall, the standard of golf played on that final day was fantastic, and it's fair to say that at times, both sides looked like they could win. Strange was magnaminous in defeat, and the real winner was the sport of golf, and the Ryder Cup itself. On another note, since the Britain and Ireland team was expanded to include the rest of Europe, the Europeans have won 6 of 9 tournaments. I would guess that every single time, they have been underdogs. What is it about the Ryder Cup that brings out the best in European golfers? Are the Americans over-rated, or are they not team players, or are they more motivated by money than glory?

posted by salmacis at 05:35 PM on September 30, 2002

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