The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

October 6, 2012

Goodwin: Ryder Cup proves there is parity in pro golf

No one, not even President Obama or presidential candidate Mitt Romney, is being asked more questions these days than Davis Love, captain of the losing U.S. Ryder Cup team.

Critics are challenging just about every decision Love made at Medina Golf Club in Chicago, including his selections as captain’s picks, his strategies in pairing teams and why he hit upon the order of sending out his players in the disappointing final round.

Golf, perhaps more than most sports, lends itself to introspection, critical analysis and nagging self-doubt. We’ve all seen good rounds destroyed in the last few holes as pressure begins to increase exponentially and hands get clammy with sweat as the mouth dries up. And that is in friendly weekend rounds.

Did pressure get to the highly favored Americans in the Ryder Cup? Or did Davis fail in some way to give his players the advice and confidence they needed before teeing off or during the competition?

The answer is simple: GET REAL.

As team captain, Love didn’t hit a driver, an iron or a putt. Everything fell on the shoulders of his players. The captain’s job as motivational guru ended when each player struck their first ball in Sunday’s singles competition.

Love did nothing wrong. His players simply didn’t get the job done. On that one particular day the majority of Europeans were better than the majority of Americans. It’s just a fact.

Actually, the Europeans did have an advantage. Each of them had loving memories of the late Seve Ballesteros perched on their shoulders, whispering encouragement and cheering them on.  Emotion can be a powerful force for good, influencing players to raise the level of their performance. Or it can cripple them by tightening up muscles and causing a form of emotional paralysis.

The Americans had a similar emotional edge several years ago with the specter of Payne Stewart hovering over the Cup matches.

No two players better exemplified the Ryder Cup than Seve and Payne. They not only loved the Ryder Cup, but relished the competition.

Our fans apparently didn’t realize that the Europeans are really good. That seems an absurd assertion, given the rousing success in this country of the McIlroys and Donalds. But the evidence strongly suggests that U.S. dominance has been supplanted by parity. That’s a healthy condition.

The bottom line is that Davis Love had little impact on the outcome of the Ryder Cup matches. He was primarily a cheerleader on the sidelines trying to put together the best team and individual match-ups the he could. The indisputable fact, however, is that the Europeans simply were better. That’s why they won.

Player of Year

  Brandon Brown, an alumnus of Eastern Kentucky, won his sixth NGA title and finished tied for fourth or better 10 times in 14 events to earn the NGA Tour’s “Golfer of the Year” honor. He earned a tour-high $115,085 and made the cut every event in which he played.

Brown was runner-up for the Player of the Year award in 2011.

Apologies

For anyone who tried to contact me by computer about tournaments in the last several weeks, I apologize. A virus put my unit out of bounds. Nothing came in that I could read. Even the computer gurus were unable to fix it. I now have a new computer.

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