Well, I said I was hoping to be wrong - and I've never been so pleased to be so wide of the mark.
My predicted one-point win for the USA in last weekend's Ryder Cup was ever so slightly inaccurate. But what a win for our guys...
It was still touch and go until my friend Sergio Garcia fought back against Phil Mickelson to swing it in Europe's favour. I was delighted for him and Miguel Angel Jimenez, another good friend. Miguel Angel didn't get the points his play deserved, but I'm sure he played a big part in the success.
Much has been made in the media on both sides of the Atlantic of the magnitude of the win and the reasons for it. I don't think you need to be a psychologist to work it out.
I said last week that the Europeans always bonded well as a team. And this year they bonded possibly more than ever before and were able to complement that with strength in depth.
Bernhard Langer was meticulous in his planning and thought long and hard about his pairings: who would work well with whom; and who would bring the best out of the rookies. On the other hand, it would seem Hal Sutton felt the best approach was to pair his two best players, even though there seemed little chemistry between the two. By the time he realised it was not going to work it was too late. Mickelson has had an outstanding individual season, yet he took just one point from a possible four. A poor return for a man whose fourth place in the world rankings is no fluke.
And it didn't appear to be through a lack of trying either. He wanted to do well, but he was usurped by Europeans playing much better.
Four of the U.S. team were in the world's top 10, compared with the one European: Padraig Harrington. Perhaps in addition to a lack of chemistry within the team, the U.S. players' success as individual Tour players conspires against them in a team competition. Many of them are very strong mentally and have trained themselves to focus solely on their own individual performance when playing on Tour.
This is of great benefit when it comes to racking up Tour wins, prize money and ranking points, but it may prove detrimental when playing as a pair or as part of a team. Some are also, quite clearly, more suited to strokeplay than matchplay events. The Europeans seem much more comfortable shedding their individuality in a team environment.
And Langer pulled a masterstroke in naming Colin Montgomerie as one of his wild cards. Monty proved not only could he play superb golf in front of a sometime hostile U.S. crowd - he's never been the most popular Scot Stateside for some unfathomable reason - but also that he was the cement that bonded the team together. Everybody looks up to Colin. And it was fitting that he should sink the winning putt.
What seems to have been forgotten among all the celebrations and recriminations is what a superb exhibition it was.
It may have been slightly one sided at the close but until Sergio started to turn the tide in the second singles match on Sunday, there was still the possibility the U.S. might come storming back.
That meant we enjoyed a fantastic spectacle and golf will have made some new fans in the process. There was no repeat of the disappointing scenes of 1999 and the camaraderie between players of both camps sets a fine example to professionals in other sports.
It was great to see players in direct opposition congratulating each other on fine shots while the friendship between Davis Love III and Darren Clarke was plain to see.
Back at the office this week, we are playing in the The Heritage on the Duke's Cours at Woburn Golf & Country Club in the English countryside.
And there will be a terrific welcome for five of the successful Ryder Cup team who are playing: Montgomerie, Harrington, Ian Poulter, David Howell, and the team's assistant captain Thomas Bjorn.
Also in the field is the South African and world No. 6 Retief Goosen - and he, like quite a few of us I would imagine, will be hoping to take advantage of a little Ryder Cup hangover to improve on our rankings.
Finding a golf course to play in the Sarasota/Bradenton area 45 miles south of Tampa is easy. World-ranked beaches, European-style boutique shopping and al fresco dining, and a fantastic circus museum are just a few of the choices available for off-course entertainment.
... full article »