Passionate Europeans will win Ryder Cup

Ian Poulter celebrates holing a putt on the 15th green Oct. 3 at the Ryder Cup.

Ian Poulter celebrates holing a putt on the 15th green Oct. 3 at the Ryder Cup.

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3:20:01 AM ET. 04/17/2014




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NEWPORT, Wales – Dim the lights. The party’s just about over. This Ryder Cup is almost a foregone conclusion. Get ready to hear the cries of “Ole, ole!” echo around the Welsh valleys in celebration of another European victory.

Only a miracle can help the U.S. team recover from a three-point disadvantage to retain Samuel Ryder’s trophy. Europe is set to claim the trophy for the 11th time, and eighth victory in the last 11 matches.

History is on Europe’s side. Of the 32 times a team has taken the lead into the singles, 25 times it has lifted the trophy.

U.S. captain Corey Pavin needs a U.S. comeback on the scale of Brookline 1999, when the U.S. rallied from 10-6 down to win. Ben Crenshaw, captain that year, uttered his famous line: “I have a feeling.” It turned out to be true. The U.S. won the singles 8 1/2–3/1/2 to take the match.

If Pavin has a similar feeling, then he isn’t sharing it with the rest of the world. His equivalent is a meek “I think we have a chance.”

As for his team talk to his players before the singles, he didn’t indicate it was going to be all fire and brimstone.

“We’ll have a little chat,” Pavin said. “There’s not much to say. I mean, these guys know what they need to do.”

Hardly inspiring, but then it’s been that way all week. The Pavin in charge of this U.S. Ryder Cup team is nothing like the Pavin who played with so much passion in three Ryder Cups, compiling an 8-5-0 record, and helping the U.S. win two of those three matches.

photo

Colin Montgomerie

He’s been Captain Bland. Captain Boring.

Compare Pavin with Monty and, well, there is no comparison. This seems like life and death for Montgomerie.

“There was method in everything I’ve done here,” Montgomerie said. “From the moment I’ve been selected as Ryder Cup captain, there’s been method in what I’ve been doing.”

The Scotsman is as pumped and emotional as he’s ever been in his career. And Monty has been on edge many times throughout his career. Witness the language Monty used on the eve of the singles.

“I’m here as European team captain, and I’m bloody well proud of being that,” he said.

“Bloody” is a mild expletive in the British Isles. At no time this week has Pavin come close to using an expletive.

Montgomerie has gone out of his way to ensure his team is in the zone heading into the head-to-head matches. He played at Brookline in 1999, and experienced the pain of watching a 10-6 lead slip away. He has stressed to his team that complacency isn’t an option.

“Brookline was mentioned in the locker room tonight,” he said. “We were 10–6 up at Brookline. We lost. This isn’t as good of a position as then. So there is never mention of that word (complacency) in our locker room. Never.

“Our goal is to win the singles session as if it’s tied tomorrow, and there will be nobody backing down from that goal.”

The Scotsman has altered his singles lineup as a result of his three–point advantage. He had prepared a singles lineup for the possibility the teams would be tied going into the singles. Pavin, on the other hand, goes with the same lineup he drew up when his side led 6-4.

Maybe the ultimate signal that the writing is on the wall comes with the way Pavin has hidden his studs in his singles lineup. World No. 1 Tiger Woods will go out in the eighth spot, while world No. 2 Phil Mickelson is 10th. Considering they’re the world’s top two players, you’d have thought Pavin would have leaned on them to kick-start the U.S. revival.

Even Monty was taken aback with Pavin’s use of Woods and Mickelson. “It does surprise me,” Monty said.

Any golf fan knows that anything can happen in 18-hole match play. So the U.S. can come back from this deficit. However, it will need a superhuman effort and, as the Europeans showed in a landslide third session, they’re the ones who showed up with their superman capes this week.

Get ready for “Ole, ole!” to ring around Celtic Manor.

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