The Martin Kaymer’s German Birdie Putt Commentary the 18th in Medinah, the one that passes six feet further, is wonderfully low-key. “Ayeee”. Not whispered. I do not scream. I just speak, encapsulating how many of us felt as that ball kept rolling. And then silence. And then the agonizing wait for Steve Stricker to line up his par putt, line it up again, and hit it in the hole.
Had all this return been in vain? And why do I keep getting butterflies when Kaymer stands on the ball for a par putt to retain the Ryder Cup? The camera cuts to Sergio Garcia and Graeme McDowell trying not to panic. Captain José María Olazábal is halfway down the street on the verge of tears.
Kaymer doesn’t say. The putt is slow enough that he rests the club against his thigh with his hands up before it lands. And Europe has.
This was in 2012. Europe fell 10-4 on Saturday with two games off the field. Ian Poulter hitting a putt and screaming like a maniac, with the eyes of that Arsenal fan at Old Trafford, burning people, arms shaking. Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson on the 17th. Mickelson’s delicious chip passed slowly, Rose making a putt from further away. Unusual steel in his eyes, tight arms. Big Phil has to clap.
“You have a much better chance of going into space or climbing Everest than you have representing Europe at the Ryder Cup,” explained Lee Westwood in preparation for this weekend’s tournament at Whistling Straits, one in which Bernd Wiesberger he will become the 164th man. to represent the continent. Europe’s captain, Padraig Harrington, noted that 570 people have traveled into space. It’s interesting to think that you are three and a half times more likely to be floating around the cosmos than to be in the frame to play four balls with Jon Rahm on Friday afternoon.
It doesn’t feel like one or the other situation. What will it be sir? Ryder Cup or space? Elon Musk is most likely considering doing the senior tour as we speak. Imagine how far you will go from the tee with zero gravity. Fuzzy Zoeller hits a five and a half mile forest straight into the greenside crater.
For the moment, the Ryder Cup remains on the ground, and for my money, the biggest sporting event out there. It’s clearly a matter of opinion Clive, not a debate where everyone disagrees at the beginning and end. But there’s something about it that moves me to the point where I feel good at any glorious European moment: Jamie Donaldson’s approach on the 15th at Gleneagles in 2014. “One hundred and forty-six yards left downhill … BE GOOD” – biting her upper lip, finger pointing skyward. “Absolutely wonderful. Well done Jamie, and now we can finally celebrate.”
Golf fans in good weather probably don’t deserve the joy of this competition. I don’t know when the European Tour starts, I catch the big leagues if I’m at home. Of all the golf courses in the world, I can only safely describe 17 at Sawgrass. But by Sunday I will have an encyclopedic knowledge of every hole in the Whistling Straits. By the time there are 12 singles matches on the course, my brain will have rewired to a golf version of the Minority Report. I’ll hear Paul Casey’s lie on the 5th and Shane Lowry’s club pick on the 12th.
Much has been made of rude American fans already, and there is a line, but I watch from the comfort of my couch with such partiality, it would be grossly hypocritical to criticize too much. The European team is made up of 12 people, 12 superheroes, each with their own origin story worthy of a two-and-a-half hour Marvel epic. 12 identical Americans stand in his way. They are the bad guys, mere henchmen. Or 11 henchmen and the final boss Bryson DeChambeau, twice the size of the others. Do they even have speaking roles? When they move their fists and beat their chests, it is vulgar and inappropriate for sport. When Europeans do it, it is for the better: it is romantic, virtuous, part of something bigger. If Viktor Hovland and Matt Fitzpatrick can combine to defeat the unscrupulous law firm Schauffele and Scheffler, then perhaps a fractured continent can be reunited. That is what it means to be European.
All of this may not generate as much excitement for some, but for the players it certainly does. The opportunity to be part of a team. This is the only time when they receive genuine support: en masse, with passion, with songs and chants. And almost the only time they are booed and booed. That camaraderie rarely exists in individual sports. You may prefer one golfer or athlete over another. But you can’t buy a season ticket for Scott Verplank. You can’t go home and away with Adam Peaty. But to be greater than the sum of its parts over a long weekend. Let that five foot putt mean something to someone else, not just you. That matters.
And while ultimately they could all be stateless millionaires living with suitcases, swinging metal sticks for our entertainment, the bond between them feels real. Ollie and Seve, Clarke and Westwood, Fleetwood and Molinari.
On Monday, we can save golf for a couple of years, but for this weekend is all that matters, and on Sunday night, let’s hope that Europe will be inspired by the brilliant Solheim Cup victory a few weeks ago and Ian Woosnam He’s on a balcony somewhere sipping a pint of Guinness to celebrate.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism