Ryder Cup: A dose of Chicago blues for Tiger Woods at Medinah
Even the bookies are unhappy with Woods for sportingly handing Europe outright victory
Played 33, won 13, lost 17, halved 3. Tiger Woods would rather listen to Justin Timberlake's poetry recitals than play in the Ryder Cup. The USA's only victory in the last six matches was in 2008 when Woods was injured and didn't play. Coincidence?
He cut a forlorn figure on Sunday evening contemplating the part he had played in what Europeans had dubbed the Miracle of Medinah but Americans were calling the Medinah Meltdown. Did Tiger simply give up on the 18th green to hand a half point to Francesco Molinari and thus victory to Europe? With his own putt – yes. But was it also defeatist not to make Molinari stare at a slippery three-foot putt?
Say what you like about Tiger's off-course extra-curricular activity, and many have, but, on the golf course, he has always been honourable to his opponents. Credit where it's due. It was a classy concession. But Woods shouldn't have been allowed to miss that final ho-hum putt. Captains Davis Love and Jose Maria Olazabal should have instructed their players to shake hands and tie the match. Perhaps they, too, were caught up in the giddy emotional confusion of glory and despair amid the cacophony and mayhem surrounding the final green.
There is no doubt that by the time Woods reached the green, his head and heart had left the building. He admitted as much. Martin Kaymer had already secured the crucial 14th point to ensure Europe retained the Cup. But surely the American team room would have been less miserable in the knowledge that they had tied a remarkable match rather than watch Woods fizzle out, chuck in the towel, and wallow in humiliating defeat.
Woods was sticking to the hymn sheet handed out by Love that a tie was as bad as a loss. A frankly baffling sporting philosophy. "It was already over," Woods said. "The Cup had already been retained by Europe. So 18 was just, hey, get this over with. You come here as a team and you win or lose as a team, and it's pointless to even finish." It made a difference to bookmakers who were counting the cost of the USA's inability to win after going into the final day 33-1 on. If Woods had halved the final hole, it would have ensured the tied contest few had put money on.
Woods finished with just that half a point and three defeats to raise the question again that the winner of 14 majors, and perhaps the finest ever exponent of strokeplay golf, is just not comfortable in the team environment of this biennial matchplay dust-up, where camaraderie, compromise and a Musketeer's motto of "All For One And One For All" is anathema to Woods' self-confessed control-freak character.
It brings to mind again what he said in 2002 when asked at the World Golf Championship Match Play tournament in Ireland whether he would rather win the current event at Mount Juliet or the Ryder Cup the following week. "This week. I can think of a million reasons why," Woods said referring to the $1m first prize.
It seems the only player Woods can team up with is Steve Stricker – and they lost all three matches. So, what to do with Tiger at Gleneagles in 2014? He'll surely make the team but Stricker won't. Neither will Tiger's one-time partner Jim Furyk. Woods will be 38 then and looked old for the first time at Medinah in the company of Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Rory McIlroy. Tiger did make one significant piece of history in Chicago – he was rested (aka dropped) for the first time. He sat out and sulked through Saturday's foursomes due to the fact his driving was so wild there was a suggestion he was auditioning for an endorsement deal with Google Maps.
It was a dose of Chicago blues for Tiger at Medinah. Next up: pick your partner for a Scottish jig. What could possibly go wrong?
Ryder headlines: world reaction
New York Times: Home Is Where The Heartbreak Is
Chicago Tribune: Medinah Meltdown
Wall Street Journal: How could an extremely talented American Ryder Cup team blow a final-day lead as large as any ever blown in 85 years of Ryder Cup history?
BILD (German): Madness! The German golf pro Martin Kaymer (27) ensures Europe's victory over the USA in the Ryder Cup
Marca (Spanish): This one is for you, Seve
Gazzetta dello Sport (Italian): The impossible has happened
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