Victory at Valhalla
Momentum is a huge factor in the Ryder Cup. There is a domino effect that can be either fatal or fantastic in this golf event, more so than in any other.
The key match on any day is the first one but most especially the first singles match on Sunday morning. US Captain, Paul Azinger, chose as his lead off man; Anthony Kim. Kim is the fourth youngest US player in the storied annals of the Cup.
Playing brilliant golf, Kim did not beat, Europe’s best Ryder Cup player, Sergio Garcia, he; shellacked him. The match was over on the 14th. hole and gave the rest of the US team a much appreciated boost. Garcia must have felt like a dart board, as Kim fired one shot after another at the flagstick.
At 23, Kim will surely play in many more Ryder Cup matches but he may never replicate the vital role that he played at Valhalla.
Asked to describe Kim, Mickelson said “Anthony Kim is a really, really funny dude”. The poignant part of that remark is that humor/fun is precisely what the US team has lacked for the last few years. This team had fun from the very beginning and it was led by this incredibly talented 23 year old.
Combined with the superb play and joie de vie of Boo Weekley, both of these Ryder Cup rookies, put the US team firmly on their shoulders and put an end to the European’s dominance of Samuel Ryder’s, little golf trophy. Weekley is a joy to watch, and even more fun to listen to. Combine that with the fact that he is a seriously good golfer, and the chant “BOO” takes on a whole new meaning.
Three years ago, Boo Weekley was on the Nationwide Tour and Anthony Kim was in college.
There are many other reasons that the Americans were the winners, none perhaps as important as Paul Azinger. Azinger may have had more influence on the outcome of a Ryder Cup than any other Captain, in history.
He has poured his heart and soul into the preparations for the last 2 years. He asked for and received, four Captains’ picks (as opposed to the traditional two), he selected his players three weeks later than usual (those picks are usually made right after the PGA Championship but Azinger delayed them so he could pick the “hottest” players at the time) and he played hunches, that proved to be prophetic.
If the powers that be have any sense at all, they will ask Azinger to make a rare return appearance as Captain, in 2010.
Let’s hope that this great event continues to be like the “hoe-down in Kentucky”. Played in good spirits by both sides, it was a showcase for great sportsmanship and superb golf. It was theater on the grandest stage where the real winner, was the game itself.