The biggest golf story of 2012 was the Ryder Cup that was held at Medinah Country Club in Chicago. Despite having a four point lead heading into the singles matches Team USA could not win the final 4½ points they needed to take the cup back from the Euros.
The American Team was led by veterans Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Steve Stricker. They also had a strong youth contingent that consisted of Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley, Brandt Snedeker, Jason Dufner and Bubba Watson.
Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, and Bubba Watson had won three of the last five majors. Team USA was well balanced between experience, stability and youth. It looked unbeatable.
The Europeans led by Captain Jose’ Maria Olazabal had seasoned Ryder Cup veterans, as well. World No. 1 and 2012 PGA Champion, Rory McIlroy headlined the team. Lee Westwood, Justin Rose, Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia, Paul Lawrie, Peter Hanson, Martin Kaymer, and Francisco Molinari all had experience on the world golf stage.
The team was so strong that Captain Olazabal didn’t even pick three-time major champion and Ryder Cup stalwart, Padraig Harrington. He instead chose Ryder Cup rookie Nicolas Colsaerts, the Belgian Bomber, to round out the European squad.
Don’t forget the Euros secret weapon, Ian Poulter. He makes it a point to show up big in team events and always seems to save his best golf for the Ryder Cup. His play in the 2012 Ryder Cup was other-worldly. He made putts from everywhere and inspired his European Team members to play outside their comfort zone.
Jose’ Maria even conjured images of the greatest Ryder Cupper of all, Seve Ballesteros. It seemed that Seve indeed had a hand in helping some of those European putts find the bottom of the hole.
The players on both teams entered the Ryder Cup playing at a high level. Excitement ran high and the atmosphere in Chicago at venerable old Medinah was electric. The highly anticipated 2012 Ryder Cup did not fail to meet expectations.
It was nearly a perfect sporting event. One team dominated in the early rounds but the underdog came back to eke out the win at the very last moment.
It transcended golf and sports fans who never watch golf were talking about it around the water cooler long after the Ryder Cup was over.
It deserved all of the hype and space that was devoted to the written word about the Ryder Cup.
I can’t wait until Gleneagles in 2014.