I don’t follow golf as closely as I follow the other sports, particularly football and basketball. However, the Ryder Cup tie that concluded this past weekend excited me no end. After a lapse of 9 years, the USA defeated Europe 16- 1/2 to 11 -1/2 and it was a real team effort. To begin with, Tiger Woods, the best golfer in the world, was sitting it out with a season ending injury and the U.S was forced to rely on some relative unknowns against a confident European squad. Not only did the U.S win, they trounced the Europeans soundly as the rookies all came through with flying colors. Anthony Kim , a 23 year old first-timer, and Boo Weekly, a jovial Kentuckian , led the charge but practically every other American played well except for Phil Mickelson,the biggest name of them all. What was most pleasing was to see the American golfers so pumped up, so supportive of each other and so overjoyed at winning. Golf is an individual sport and these players are all millionaires but it was great to see how excited and proud they were to win not for themselves but for the good ole U.S.A. Anthony Kim, who had destroyed Sergio Garcia in a head to head duel, was perhaps the most demonstrative, waving a large U.S flag after the victory had been sealed.
In a way, it was a reprise of last month’s Olympic basketball championship where the Americans played together as a team and annihilated the opposition. In previous Olympics, the U.S squad, inspite of having the best players in the world, failed to play together and paid the price , not even making it to the finals. This time , they were picked for their ability to play sound defense and hit the outside shot. Coach K was able to harness their considerable talents and school them in the international rules which are different from those in the NBA. The result was the first gold medal in 12 years.
Paul Azinger, the non playing captain of the Ryder Cup team, similarly selected the kind of team he wanted—not neccessarily the best players but tough, hardnosed and able to keep their cool. Seeing how it paid off, this is perhaps a blueprint for future successes.
Talent, it seems, is not everything.