Larry says it as well as we could, so just go read his story. Colin Montgomerie will be a force to reckon with in the Ryder Cup now, mark my words!
Sam Torrance, former captain of the European Ryder Cup team, said Wednesday:
There's a little bit less pressure playing away from home than playing at home. In front of your home crowd, everyone's cheering you on and you feel like you have to play well.
A bit of gamesmanship? A bit of truth? Americans play well in the British Open, yet the reverse is not true.
You know the crowd's going to be on the Americans' side. You just have to use it and not let it get you down. When the USA chant starts, just let it annoy you. Let it build you up, let it make you mad and play better golf.
Good advice indeed. The US side, of course, can just as easily use the chant to boost them. But this is why we adore the Ryder Cup so much: because it is a battle. Because the underdog has a real chance every time. Because it shows a man's will - a team's will - more than any other tournament or competition. Raw competitiveness, raw humanity on display. That's the Ryder Cup.
It's finally happened. Tiger Wood's 334-week reign atop the World Rankings is over. Vijay Singh won the Deutsche Bank Championship to claim the top spot, making him only the twelfth golfer in 18 years to hold that position.
The only three European Ryder Cup members to enter the Omega Eurpoena Masters took the top three places (well, Sergio Garcia finished tied third), Luke Donald winning by five from Miguel Angel Jimenez. The only thing more impressive than Donald's final round was Jimenez's curly mullet (aka the Spafro).
Luis Carbonetti from Argentina won the European Senior Masters at the Duke's Course in Woburn, England. In last place, however, was Nigel Mansell, the former Formula 1 and Indy Car world champion, finishing at 28 over. Apparently, despite trying to keep his game on track, his rounds were plagued by bad driving, leaving him well off the pace (ahem…).
Saturday proved to be a game of "Anything you can do, I can do better" in Switzerland, as Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald were bettered by fellow Ryder Cup teammate Miguel Angel Jimenez. After starting with an eagle, Garcia gave up the lead on the back nine as Jimenez posted a third-round 66, two better than Garcia's 68. Luke Donald posted a third-round 65, which earned him a share of second place with Garcia.
In addition to the friendly competition before the Ryder Cup matches in two weeks, Jimenez is also looking for his fifth win this year. After rebuffing comments yesterday by Sergio Garcia that Jimenez should sit out the German Masters next week, Jimenez is angling to conquer the Omega European Masters as his sixth win in 2004, equalling the record set by fellow Spaniard Seve Ballesteros.
"I feel strong. I'm doing the right thing. I don't feel I need to take a break. […] I have my family with me here and I'm nice and relaxed." Instead of proving to be a tiring run of events for the 40-year old, Jimenez appears to be thriving with the competition, and a thriving Jimenez could spell trouble for the Americans at Oakland Hills.
However with Tiger playing well in Boston, my figurative money's still on the Americans.
European Ryder Cup teammates Sergio Garcia, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Luke Donald command the leaderboard during the second round of the European Masters in Switzerland today, displaying the reasons they earned their places on the team.
Sergio Garcia goes into the third round 11-under par after pairing yesterday's 66 with today's blistering 65. Jimenez is one shot back at 10-under, and Luke Donald is three back of Garcia at 8-under.
While the Europeans may appear at the top of their game, cracks may be appearing in the team's relationship. When 24-year old Sergio Garcia suggested that his 40-year old teammate Jimenez skip next week's German Masters so he'd be on the top of his game for the Ryder Cup, Jimenez appeared to bristle.
"I don't need people to tell me what to do," said Jimenez. "I am 40 and old enough to know what I have to do."
Of course, it could just be Spanish humor. I've never understood Spanish humor.
Michael Long looks to defend his title at the Virginia Beach Open next week in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Winning last year with a eleven-under 277, Michael and the rest of the Nationwide Tour field returns to the TPC at Virginia Beach for four days of golf.
Michael, who is happy just to be golfing after a scary neck injury five years ago, missed the cut at last week's Envirocare Utah Classic. Brett Wetterich took home the purse from Willow Creek Country Club by continuing to pound the ball past his opponents. Wetterich, currently second in driving distance on the Nationwide Tour, joins Long next week in Virginia Beach.
With Hurricane Frances bearing down on the east coast, this year's Virginia Beach Open could shape up to be as wet as last-year's rain soaked event. Your Intrepid Reporter will be attending the final day of golf at the TPC and bringing you firsthand coverage of the event, with or without my trusty umbrella.
The Omega European Masters got underway yesterday at that-course-in-the-Swiss-Alps-which-is-actually-a-ski-slope-seven-months-of-the-year, otherwise known as Crans-sur-Sierre.
Some notes about the event:
- The course is 1,500 metres above sea level, so the ball carries about 10% further than normal. The caddies will be working extra hard on their math this week.
- Seve Ballesteros altered/remodelled/butchered the course in 1997, supposedly to make it "tougher" for the professionals and limit low scoring, like Colin Montgomerie's -24 mark in 1996. What did he do? Well, first of all, he turned a short par 4 into a long par 3. Genius! There's one shot per round saved already! He also remodelled all the putting surfaces, to make them not so much upturned saucers as upturned teacups. Now, if my career was flagging, and all I had left was a stellar short game and a #1 ranked touch on the greens, what would I do to improve my chances of winning? (It didn't work.)
- The winner not only gets a nice pay cheque and a shiny trophy, but also a rather fetching red blazer… sorry, jacket. Almost makes you want to be a pro, don't it? Well, if it's presented by Cindy Crawford, then frankly, yes, it does.
Day 1 leaderboard: Miguel Angel Jimenez leads at -6 (65), with Sergio Garcia, Peter Baker, Peter Hedblom and Marc Farry a shot back.
I understand the idea behind Bernhard Langer picking Colin Montgomerie for the European 2004 Ryder Cup team. The thought is that with so many younger or rookie players, you want to look for someone who provides leadership and a steady game. But, speaking as an American who obviously doesn't have the same access to the European Tour as Mr. Langer, I have to wonder: why Monty?
Yes, Monty was lights-out in 2002, and his Ryder Cup record is impressive. As an all-around player, Monty was one of the world's best. Was.
Bernhard Langer has his Ryder Cup team. Qualifying on their own:
- Padraig Harrington
- Sergio Garcia
- Darren Clarke
- Miguel Angel Jimenez
- Lee Westwood
- Thomas Levet
- Paul Casey
- David Howell
- Paul McGinley
- Ian Poulter
Bernhard then chose something old
- Colin Montgomerie
and something new
- Luke Donald
to round out his 2004 Ryder Cup Team.