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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Column: No Tiger, No Phil. And possibly a US Ryder Cup win

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Tiger Woods gained’t be at Whistling Straits this week, for apparent causes. Phil Mickelson will, however for the primary time since 1995, he gained’t hit a shot within the Ryder Cup.

The storyline within the Ryder Cup hasn’t modified, however the marquee gamers have — no less than in terms of the beleaguered U.S. staff. Woods continues to be mending from a automobile accident, whereas Mickelson will finish a streak of 12 straight Ryder Cups as a participant to be a non-playing assistant captain for a team tasked with wrestling the cup back from Europe.

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Which will show a little bit of a disappointment for the tens of 1000’s who will swarm the rugged course on the sting of Lake Michigan to scream for the house staff. The mere sight of Woods or Mickelson close to a tee field is often trigger for wild celebration, particularly because the day grows lengthy and the alcohol flows.

Look just a little nearer, although, and it is probably not such a foul factor for a U.S. staff attempting desperately to regain the cup on residence soil. As a result of as proficient as Woods and Mickelson are, they’ve been — for essentially the most half — flops in terms of the Ryder Cup.

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No, they’re not totally answerable for the People shedding 9 of the final 12 Ryder Cups and 4 of the final 5. However because the leaders of lots of these groups, they didn’t contribute a lot to them, both.

The losses through the years have been beautiful sufficient, coming to European groups that on paper have been by no means as proficient as any American squad topped by Woods and Mickelson. Equally as beautiful is the report of the 2 greatest American golfers of the final quarter-century.

Whereas Mickelson holds the Ryder Cup report for many matches performed (47), he additionally holds the report for many matches misplaced (22). Mickelson’s profitable proportion is simply 46% (7 ties), and his devotion to the staff idea has been questioned on a number of events through the years.

Woods, in the meantime, final gained a Ryder Cup match in 2010. He’s performed in eight of them, and the final time he was on a profitable staff was when he was dominating every little thing in golf in 1999.

In his final Ryder Cup whereas fairly wholesome, Woods went 0-3-1 in 2012. He seemingly completed his Ryder Cup profession with a 0-4 mark in France in 2018, the place Europe romped to a win that was shocking if solely as a result of not a lot resistance was put up on the opposite aspect.

Simply how unhealthy is his total report? A journeyman named J.B. Holmes has been on extra profitable Ryder Cup groups than Woods, whose Ryder Cup profession can be remembered extra for missed alternatives than nice performances.

Why couldn’t Woods and Mickelson win huge within the Ryder Cup after they’ve gained huge in every single place else? That’s a query that vexed Ryder Cup captains through the years who spent lengthy stressed nights attempting to determine the best way to match their skills to numerous teammates within the staff matches.

They misplaced with teammates each good and unhealthy. They misplaced in greatest ball and misplaced in alternate shot. They even misplaced in singles, most disastrously when Mickelson was crushed in 2002 on the ultimate day at The Belfry by Phillip Worth, then No. 119 on this planet, because the U.S. misplaced by a degree.

And people in golf keep in mind effectively the disastrous pairing of the 2 in 2008 after they melted down virtually earlier than they reached the primary tee. The concept, in line with captain Hal Sutton, was to steamroll the Euros with the sport’s high two gamers, but it surely didn’t take lengthy for the plan to go horribly awry.

Woods and Mickelson misplaced their first greatest ball match, then extra famously have been crushed in alternate shot when Mickelson sliced a shot up to now left that Woods briefly coated his eyes and ended up taking an unplayable in a 1-up loss.

Now each are out of the lineup — Mickelson for the primary time since his Ryder Cup debut a quarter-century in the past — and the U.S. brings a younger however extraordinarily proficient staff to Whistling Straits as a substitute. Whereas Woods stays residence in Florida, Mickelson can be an assistant captain, tooling round in a golf cart and cheering his countrymen on.

The torch has been handed, and it gained’t be returned. Mickelson is 50, and except for his unbelievable win within the PGA Championship earlier this yr, is previous his aggressive prime, whereas Woods was injured so badly in his automobile crash that he could by no means hit a shot that counts once more.

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Onerous to imagine it was 22 years in the past that Woods and Mickelson have been on the profitable staff at Brookline in a U.S. last day comeback so stirring that each in all probability noticed plenty of Ryder Cup glory of their future.

“I by no means knew how good it feels to win the Ryder Cup,” Woods mentioned afterward.

Extremely, he hasn’t had the sensation since.



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