It has been more than two weeks since my last blog post, and to tell you the truth the Ryder Cup drained me. I also had a club championship that I played in, a death in the family and then a 10 year college reunion, and a little thing I like to call work. So, I have a few good excuses but I hope everyone will forgive me for my leave of absence from the Golfing world of Chicago, arguably when I was needed most.
I attended the singles matches of the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club, and I will go on record saying it was the greatest sporting event I have ever attended. I have been to MLB playoff games (Cards not Cubs unfortunately), NHL Conference Championships (the night the Blackhawks swept the Sharks to secure their spot in the Stanley Cup), I have been to countless Western Opens, Bears Games, Cubs Games, Sox Games, you name it and I have attended some type of game significant or regular season. But the Ryder Cup on that Sunday morning was a whirlwind of emotions, and American pride. We were winning, and there was nothing that was going to stop the freight train that was the USA Ryder Cup Team. Then the first tee shots were hit by Bubba Watson and Luke Donald, and the American Team started its tumble from the top, and the Europeans began to clawed their way back.
Early in the day after crossing the Medinah Strangler (the small bridge next to the #2 green) which took us 45 minutes to cross (which I believe was slower than when Washington crossed the Delaware) we started to make our way down around the front nine. Mostly following Bubba Watson and Luke Donald, but catching glimpses of the early groups. We saw Rory McIlroy arrive late, and then proceed to thump Keegan Bradley. After walking around on the front nine, we found Bubba Watson and Luke Donald (Bubba is 2 down at this point) on the tenth hole and decided we were going to plant ourselves on the 15th green to watch everyone come in down the stretch.
Our voyeur spot was a little hill backed up against the property line and in front of us a cart path. It was the perfect spot, we could see the players tee off on 15, watch them approach and putt on 15, and then walk right in front of us to the 16th tee box and tee off down the 16th. We arrived about an hour prior to the first group coming in, and we had plenty of time to set up shop and steak our claim. The spot was the best part about the day, we had great “seats” on a big hole, near the end of every match, and no one could block our view. PERFECTION.
I was on my iPhone the entire time we were on that 15th green. Checking the scores of the matches, seeing who would be the deciding point and win the Ryder Cup for the US. The US did not get off to a good start. Jose stacked the deck early, and put out the big guns to secure some early points. The first 5 went to the Euros, but the American’s were still winning enough to secure the Ryder Cup. But then the unthinkable happened. Phil Mickelson lost hist match when he was two up with three to play. You could say that Phil got beat, that Justin Rose played so well that no one could have beaten him, which is true Justin played great, but Phil could have won 15 and tied 16. One match is no big deal, we still have plenty more out there we can win…or do we.
After the word hit us that Phil had lost, the other fans and I got a little restless. I don’t think anyone really thought about the American’s loosing, but the thought did pop up into my head. When Johnson and Johnson both secured American wins, everyone let out a sigh of relief, but then Jim Furyk passed by us on 15 1 up over Sergio Garcia. The match had been back and forth from Jim up one to AS, but Jim was in control the entire time until the last two holes. Jim Furyk bogeyed the last two holes to loose to Sergio one down. That was the steak in the heart to the Americans at Medinah. Everyone knew at that point that we were now on the run. Team USA was not in control anymore, we were playing catch up, and we needed to step it up in order to win this thing.
After Sergio picked up the fumble that was Furyk, team USA was only up in one other match at the time. Dufner was putting a pretty good beating down on Hanson, and the ever stoic Dufner was putting on a little show for the crowd. On 15 he drove it on to the back of the green, lagged up to around 4 or 5 feet, and made the five footer to win the hole and go two up. After he made his putt he raised his fist and pumped towards the crowd, we went nuts. Dufner the guy who shows no emotion, is getting fired up to take this cup back. We had renewed life, but it was just the last big burst of life just prior to death.
The deciding matches came down to Steve Striker and Tiger Woods. We needed 1.5 points between those two American’s to secure a victory for the USA. If you would have told me that the entire Ryder Cup would come down to Strik and Woods, I would have said its in the bag folks, but I would have lost that bet. Striker struggled all week, and was the only American to go pointless in 2012. After a three putt from Kaymer on the 15th green, Striker was AS going into the last three holes. Tiger Woods had just lost the 14th but he was all square as well. There was hope for the Americans and those hopes rested on the shoulders of a crafty veteran and the worlds most dominate player.
Everyone knows the end of this story, Striker fell apart, Tiger stepped it up, but Tiger could not win 1.5 half points by himself. The world cannot blame Steve Striker for loosing the Ryder Cup (even though we all kind of want to) because there are 12 players on that team, and a large management team with Captain and the assistant captains. No one can deny that the Europeans wanted to win more than we did on Sunday. Team Europe played great all the way around, they came back from the largest deficit going into a Sunday (tied withe American come back of 99 at the Country Club), set records and beat the pants off of the Americans on their own turf. Much easier to come from behind when you are the home team, try doing that where the crowd is rooting against you the entire time. Something to be said about that.
The Ryder Cup is truly the greatest stage that golf has. There is really no other event like it in the world of sports. The history the camaraderie and the rivalries are astounding and charismatic. I could not have been more heart broken on Sunday watching Martin Kaymer raise his hands, and stalk off the green into the arms of Sergio Garcia cheering and celebrating while a good portion of the crowd next to us on the 18th green was chanting OLE OLE OLE OLE or EU – ROPE. Even though I was upset that my team had lost, and that they had lost on my home town, and I would have to live with that loss every time I drive by Medinah… I still tell people “yeah it really sucked we lost, but man it was still really cool to be there”. And that is how I cope, even though the American’s lost, and we got beaten historically, it was still the greatest golfing experience I have had. I have never been to a Major Championship, but I find it very hard to believe that anything could top the Ryder Cup.