Saturday, September 20, 2008
Americans 9, Europeans 7.
Tim O'Brien wrote one of my favorite books of all time, a copulation of short stories about the Vietnam war called "The Things They Carried." I know that comparing war to sports is ignorant and short-sighted, but the idea is related. This Ryder Cup was full of things the American team carried. Phil Mickelson carried heartache. The rookies carried recent history. Paul Azinger carried a huge burden. They were strapped with an image of losers for the first time ever.
Today the Americans kept to the course if you will, winning and splitting points without their best stuff. Yesterday they were on fire. Today they just survived.
Phil Mickelson continued the form we used to believe he would bring to the Ryder Cup, making just about every putt except the one they needed on 17. It is amazing that even Mickelson can under think a putt like that one. Hunter Mahan hasn't looked like a rookie since the tires touched down in Kentucky and I have to say if you had a Ryder Cup suicide league for tomorrow, where you have to pick an American to win, Mahan might be the best choice.
We had Boo Weekley and J.B. Holmes being Boo Weekley and J.B. Holmes. They won, and they looked like they were having a helluva time doing so.
It's also worth noting the play of guys like Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell. Rather unknowns except for some goofy clothes here or there, these two were the stallions for a European team looking for an identity. Poulter might look like a moron here or there, especially after the reaction to making a foot and a half putt to win the match on 18, but he played like a season vet and never seemed to falter under the pressure.
Tomorrow is singles. It is a portion of this tournament that the Americans have dominated. I guess after today you can't rule out the gritty Europeans who won't go away and seem to make the putt they need, but the Americans seem set on a goal.
If they can keep their cool, the trophy might stay here for the first time this millennium.
Ross Kinnaird, Getty Images