Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Will Europe Implode in the Ryder Cup?

Could Paul Azinger - holder of exactly 0 cards in a 5 card draw hand of poker - be waiting for Nick Faldo and the Euros the implode upon themselves and lead to a US win at Valhalla?

Brian Murphy at Yahoo! Golf brings us this:

Maybe Cap’n Zinger’s best game plan isn’t the Parade o’ Missed Cut Wild Card Picks. Instead, maybe Team USA’s strategy is this: Sit back and let Team Europe implode.

I always thought it curious that Nick Faldo, who exuded all the charm of a tax auditor when he was winning majors, would be the man to rally Team Europe to another Ryder Cup win. The gut feeling here was, Team Europe was bound to start feeling pressure after all those stirring wins over the U.S., and would enter the ’08 Cup slightly uneasy as the heavy favorite. Throw in Faldo’s ability to spar with the media and his fellow Euro Tour players, and you had a combustible mix waiting to explode like a bad high school chemistry experiment.

Zinger got just what he wanted when Faldo, apparently enamored by a friendship with Ian Poulter, stiffed the enormously popular Clarke for the spiky-haired dude in the Union Jack pants. This set the British media back into a familiar and comfortable place: attacking Faldo.

Word out of Europe is, Faldo loves the fact that Poulter, too young to feel the full icy wrath of Faldo the Player, actually looks up to Faldo the Cap’n. Thus, Faldo could pick Poulter – legitimately, a fiery competitor who showed well at Birkdale – and avoid having Clarke, and even another spurned pick, the Ryder Cup lion Montgomerie, sit in the back of the room giggling when Faldo tried to fire up the troops.

Now players like Sergio Garcia and even American Jim Furyk are questioning Faldo; Poulter has enormous pressure to perform; and the Americans have their ace in the hole – Faldo’s always-present ability to tick off those closest to him. That’s a winner for Team USA.

It's a good point. People are seriously ticked off that Ian Poulter got onto this team. (Nevermind Paul Casey being kinda meh, but Poulter is the sticking boy because it is he who has the too chummy relationship with Faldo.) Poulter is getting projected upon to him the decades worth of anger from players and European media that just don't like Nasty Nick. I'll bet that, in a way, they want Poulter to fail to show something to Faldo. And if it just so happens that the Euros lose the Ryder Cup if Poulter folds like a house of cards (I think he may), then so what?

Some media in Europe have suggested that Poulter will be under the greatest pressure to perform compared to any player in the history of the event. That's probably hyperbole, but the last man who was trying to press under pressure - Paddy Harrington - laid an egg in the matches.

American Larry Dorman has this on Poulter in the NY Times:

Poulter will be under more pressure to perform at the Ryder Cup than any player in the recent history of the event. Everything he does will be scrutinized in light of his friendship with Faldo and the suspicion, vehemently denied by both, that Poulter had been assured of a berth on the team even before he decided to pass up the Johnnie Walker Championship last week at Gleneagles, Scotland, to play at the Deutsche Bank Championship outside Boston, where he missed the cut.

Seriously, I am still stunned that Darren Clarke did not make the Ryder Cup team!

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