I’m uncertain how many people, even golf fans, understand the Ryder Cup. It’s a three day event and unique to every other tournament played by the world’s best.
This year the Cup is being played in the U.S. at Medinah Country Club just outside of Chicago. Friday and Saturday pair teams of two from Europe and the United States. In the mornings, the players from each team alternate shots. They play whatever is left for them from their teammate. In the afternoon the teams are still in groups of two, but they play “best ball”. In other words, the member of the team that gets the lowest score on a hole has his number recorded as the team number. Tomorrow, Sunday, and the final day, play is one on one. To win the tournament the U.S. needs 14 and ½ points. To retain their title, the Europeans need 14 points.
With the exception of the team of 45 year old Steve Stricker, and 36 year old Tiger Woods, each U.S. team has won at least one match and therefore one point going into the afternoon “best ball” matches on Saturday.
The U.S. led 8 to 4 after the morning round. The best European team of Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter, were shaky at best, losing on Friday and trailing for much of Saturday’s round. Stricker and Woods were equally disappointing on the American side. Bubba Watson and Matt Kucher virtually cruised through their victory.
The back nine holes gave the 50,000 plus gallery plenty of thrills. Poulter and McIlroy made a charge. Until the 14th hole, Jason Dufner and Zack Johnson controlled the match. On the 18th hole Dufner placed his second shot within eight feet of the pin. He missed his birdie putt. Poulter was unfazed and completed a string of five straight birdies, winning the match one up.
Meanwhile the team of Stricker and Woods, who were four down at one point, also made their charge. Woods birdied the 10th, 13th, 14th, 16th, and 17th holes, playing almost perfect golf with every shot. Stricker maintained good play, but seemed to lack the energy needed to win the match. On the 18th hole Stricker had a good chance to make the match even, giving each team a half point. Stricker, known as one of the best putters in the game, missed a very makeable 8 foot putt to give them a loss, one under.
If you enjoy golf, you can’t miss tomorrow’s singles matches. The U.S. is ahead on points 10 to 6, but tomorrow will tell the final chapters of this story. The fans are incredible. There are many European fans in the large crowd, but the loudest chants are, “USA, USA, USA”. This is a unique event and I’m enjoying every shot by every player.