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Ryder Cup: Day One-Hitters

I’m venting here, so I apologize if this is largely negative. And while it’s certainly not the NLU party line, it should be a pretty representative sample of where the four of us stand after Day 1. Enough foreplay, let’s get to it:

  • Patrick Reed is a divisive figure in my neck of the woods (Atlanta) and I’ve always heard nothing but negatives about him from friends who played with or against him in college. My colleague Fil’s been beating the Patrick Reed drum since March and shouting Paul Revere style that the guy is a killer – I was finally convinced about a month ago, and now I’m evangelizing the unwashed masses. He’s good for this team and he’s good for the Tour. I don’t even care how he plays from here on out – the US needs like six more of him. He’s raw, he cares, and most importantly, he knows how to channel his emotion/rage onto the course. Bravo, Patrick. And as much as everyone is jumping all over Watson for sitting him and Spieth (absolutely, he made the wrong choice), those two are now the poster-children for something I thought was bullshit until now: competitive starvation (Adam Scott kept mentioning it over and over again as an excuse for not playing often earlier this year and I thought it was such a cop-out.) Tom is (inadvertently) feeding the beast here. Patrick Reed should be kept in a cage tonight next to the first tee.
  • The sheer number of commercials on the telecast was staggering. Golf Channel needs to figure out a way to leverage one of these Euro voices to lead the telecast. I’ll be searching for the Sirius feed tomorrow to augment the images on my television. I wish that weren’t the case, but it is. Terry Gannon (a guy I actually really love for 2nd tier TOUR events) + Dan Hicks (don’t love him unless he’s paired up with Rowdy Gaines) = low-wattage schlock unbecoming of an international spectacle. On the flip side, Judge Reinhold errrr Rich Lerner runs a tight ship on the pre and post-game.
  • I’ve been a vocal critic of Matt Kuchar over the last year, frequently dogging him for lacking a killer instinct and underproducing in the wins column despite an otherworldly number of top-ten finishes over the last few years (this year’s Texas Swing was a prime example, before he threw a bit of egg on my face when he holed out on #18 for the win at Heritage the night after we recorded NLU podcast #1 and I went at him hard). My common refrain is that he lacked “pop.” His game is consistent and well-balanced, but he’s always faded on the biggest stages and I posited . The time has come for him to prove it. He lacked pop today. Kuch was vaporized (Stanley Goodspeed-style) in Sunday Singles in ’10 & ’12 when the chips down. Hell, he’s 0-2 in Sunday Singles in the President’s Cup, too. I’m tired of hearing how great he is on the ping-pong table in the team room. Grab your sack and get in the game.
  • This team sorely misses DJ.
  • Ivor Robson on the first tee is a treat.
  • Dubuisson continues to surprise and delight.
  • As “Mr. Deez” is my perception of Webb, go ahead and cue this up while I douse myself in kerosene and self-immolate before riffing…Unfortunately, Webb Simpson is exactly who the hell we thought he was (and I say this knowing that Webb is a great guy). After shanking his opening tee shot (ya hate to see it!), he proceeded to pucker so badly that there’s absolutely no way he should be seen in public before Sunday morning. Ostensibly, he was chosen for the team because he’s one of the few (the proud) who can tolerate Bubba. He puckered in ’12 against Poulter setting the whole Sunday debacle in motion. He’s 0-1-1 in President’s Cup Singles. 0-1 in Walker Cup Singles. His FedEx Cup Playoffs performance hinted at really lackluster form (finished over par in 3/4 events). And yet he was chosen for this because he pairs well with Bubba. What a cop-out. To put it in perspective, none of the commentators even mentioned him as a disappointment today in the wrap-ups, the expectations were that low. The blood is on your hands, Tom – you could’ve hired ZJ to babysit Bubba. Unfortunately, the fears we’ve been expounding on for weeks came true today. Hopefully, here’s what happens to Webb in a couple hours.
  • For 2k16 let’s eject the stale taste pervading this team: Mahan/ZJ/Webb/Furyk/Kuchar, you’re outta here! BillyHo/Koepka/English/Woodland (it’s time to step up, Harris and Gary), welcome to the fold. These four added to a core of young returnees in Spieth, Fowler, Reed, DJ, Keegan, and augmented with Lefty, Bubba, and someone like Walker. Thinking about the what-if’s is just starting to piss me off at this point. It’s not just about the talent, it’s about the ATTITUDE.

Looking ahead, very excited for the four-ball matchups:

  • Definitely not betting against Rose/Stenson in the first match.
  • Donaldson/Westwood vs. Furyk/Mahan is a huge litmus test for the US squad, IMO, and I think Hunter and Jim answer the bell and get it done (although Donaldson’s game is TIGHT).
  • Bjorn/Kaymer vs. Reed/Spieth pairing is efficient calm juxtaposed with competitive lunacy. I’d pair Kaymer with Stenson in the afternoon and see what that yields.
  • In the last match, I think there’s a strong chance that Rory comes out firing on all cylinders, bad intentions in tow. Poulter will only fuel that. I’m giddy to see if Fowler and Walker can match.
  • Sunday Singles is the holy grail for me, if you can’t tell. It’s when you either slay the dragon, or lack pop and fade into the ether. Some singles matches I’m craving for Sunday – GMac vs. Jimmy Walker (both classy & rock solid), Spieth vs. Dubuisson (don’t quite know why), Serg vs. Bubba (obvi), and the main event: Reed vs. Rory (Pat would be geeked out of his mind, and would either get put in his place or would slay the dragon. Great theatre either way). Obviously all conjecture, but it’s fun to dream.
  • Can these two please hang out all day??? Hell, can they just be the captains for 2016?

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Here’s hoping that tomorrow yields more Monty (8 time Ryder Cup participant; thoughtful, nuanced analyst; custard enthusiast) and less Johnny (two time participant; worn-out blowhard; Johnny Miller enthusiast), the US figuring out how to survive alternate shot, a Sean Connery appearance, and more of this guy on the left….

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About the Author

Tron Carter - NLU's resident curmudgeon, wannabe media critic, fashion crusader, and arbiter of all things "pop." Passionate proponent of taking driver off the deck. Native of Atlanta, now residing in Jacksonville Beach after two quick, but beneficial years in Boston. Other interests include history, infrastructure, wine, and Michael Bay's seminal masterpiece The Rock. Also doing business as "Todd Schuster." [email protected]

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  • I think Phil owes the people of Denver a 36 hole exhibition. When pro day at Cherry Hills rolls around Phil needs to show up and then proceed to get beat by their 5 handicap assistant pro.

  • Looking forward to your Day Two and Day Three musings. Whenever, no rush.

  • Any talk of Freddie or Azinger is valid but right now its a knee jerk reaction. The PGA generally announces in December I think and the time needs to be spent evaluating more than just the captaincy. It is but one element in a two year process that culminates in a three day competition. What Freddie has done with the Presidents Cup is great and what Paul did in Kentucky was great too. Both come with their issues though with respect to how the next Ryder Cup needs to be handled. Freddie is very casual and hands off or so his image suggests. Paul is shrewd and honest but can be confrontational. If a new selection process is put into use ( and one better be) then it needs to be managed by someone who has the time and know how to execute a long term plan. Freddie does not fit that bill. Here’s the hard part…the role also will require someone still in touch physically with the tour players. It must be a touring professional or recently retired player. In 2008 Paul was still in touch with the guys. Most knew him well except for the younger rookies. They knew him and liked him and could easily slip into the role of being led by him into competition. There are only a few guys left from that team who would play in 2016. Its possible none will be on the team. That rules out Paul (at least for these reasons). My choice if I had to make it would be David Toms. He still plays a full schedule, will be 47 in 2016 and is very highly liked and respected by tour players, the media, and the Europeans. He is a past PGA champion which never hurts. He holds one of the best rookie records in Ryder Cup so he knows the value of rookies. In his personal life he runs a serious organization ranked #1 by the Wall Street Journal in its category. He is the man for the job. With respect to Azinger I feel he (or someone very much like him) should have a leadership role above the Captain with the PGA. Call it VP of Competitions. He is valuable to the game and I am surprised he doesn’t already hold such a position somewhere. Hazeltine in 2016! At this point bill it as David vs. Goliath. Darren Clarke will likely be the Goliath.

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