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Massacre at Medinah: Europe’s historic comeback

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In the colorful history of Chicago, one of the best known chapters is the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. That event involved one powerful gang invading the home turf of their rival gang and when the smoke cleared, no one from the home team was left standing; they’d all been wacked.

You can now add one more chapter to the Chicago history book: The Massacre at Medinah.

In overcoming a daunting 10-6 deficit to defeat the United States 14.5 to 13.5 in the 39th Ryder Cup, the European team proved that this event is unique in its ability to produce outcomes that simultaneously quicken the spirit and boggle the mind. For the first two days the Americans bullied the Europeans, distributing two-man beatings like the gangsters that used to dominate the Windy City. The Euros looked outmanned, outgunned and uncharacteristically outclassed compared to the Americans. From the pyrotechnic bromance that was Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley to the silent movie that is Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson, virtually every pairing seemed to be a confirmation of the skill and preparation from U.S. Captain Davis Love. And what was most puzzling was that the team matches had historically been the domain of the Euros. With Sunday singles looming, it seemed that a rout was afoot.

It was going to be a rout, but not the one that everyone expected.

European captain Jose Maria Olazabal took a page from Ben Crenshaw’s Captain’s Log, exhorting his charges to “believe”. They had been given hope in the form of Nicolas Colsaerts eight birdies and an eagle to save a point on Friday. Ian Poulter seemed to lose his mind as he won a crucial point on Saturday with five straight birdies and a victory yell straight out of Braveheart. The U.S. team also provided hope as Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker went oh-fer in their matches, an especially disappointing result for Stricker as a Captain’s Choice.

On Sunday, the Europeans front-loaded their lineup knowing that they needed to draw blood quickly to have any hope. While the American pairings had covered the weaknesses of their players, those vulnerabilities were fully exposed as the teams went mano á mano. The Euros seemed to remember that while the Americans had seven players on their roster with a major championship, they had four major winners as well as four players on their own team that had been ranked No. 1 in the world and four players in the current top 5. Singles play provided the opportunity for the each of the European players to navigate the course in their own manner. It quickly became apparent that the Euros were not going to roll over for the U.S. team or the U.S. crowd.

While the Euros took flight, the Americans seemed to wilt as each match reached the back nine. Maybe it was because so many of the matches in the first two days ended early, but whatever the reason the Americans lost ten consecutive matches that reached the 17th or 18th hole, a damning statistic. It speaks to the Americans being classic frontrunners that choked like dogs in the clutch.

The whole day was a repeat of the Americans astonishing comeback in Brookline in 1999, where the U.S. rode a wave of crowd noise and a thousand feet of holed putts to victory. But on the last hole of the Martin Kaymer – Jim Furyk match on Sunday, it was the ghosts of Bernhard Langer and the the six-foot putt that he missed that would have won the Cup for Europe in 1991 that hung over the course. Fellow German Kaymer found himself also standing over a six-footer for the Cup. He drained it, making the anchor match of Wood and Molinari moot, and putting a cap on arguably the greatest day of golf ever. Somewhere, Seve Ballesteros was smiling.

In the St. Valentie’s Day Massacre, one side was outmanned and outgunned. In this massacre, the victims were plenty well-armed; they just couldn’t get off a shot when they needed to. The senior core on the U.S. team of Furyk, Stricker and Mickelson failed utterly on Sunday, and Woods never had the chance to secure a point that could have partially redeemed him from yet another lackluster Ryder Cup performance. And while Davis Love said that he would not have done anything differently on team selection, Rickie Fowler and Hunter Mahan must have felt some combination of disgust and satisfaction as they watched Stricker and the rest of the golf version of the PTA hobble and wobble to the finish line.

There are so many individual stories that will come out in the next few days as the events of the last few are analyzed. The 39th Ryder Cup was a weekend that will live long in golf annals, and in the minds of both teams. For the Europeans, it will truly be the Massacre at Medinah. For the Americans, it will always feel more like an ambush.

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour Talk” forum. 

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Williams has a reputation as a savvy broadcaster, and as an incisive interviewer and writer. An avid golfer himself, Williams has covered the game of golf and the golf lifestyle including courses, restaurants, travel and sports marketing for publications all over the world. He is currently working with a wide range of outlets in traditional and electronic media, and has produced and hosted “Sticks and Stones” on the Fox Radio network, a critically acclaimed show that combined coverage of the golf world with interviews of the Washington power elite. His work on Newschannel8’s “Capital Golf Weekly” and “SportsTalk” have established him as one of the area’s most trusted sources for golf reporting. Williams has also made numerous radio appearances on “The John Thompson Show,” and a host of other local productions. He is a sought-after speaker and panel moderator, he has recently launched a new partnership with The O Team to create original golf-themed programming and events. Williams is a member of the United States Golf Association and the Golf Writers Association of America.

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Tour News

WATCH: Tiger Woods on Facebook Live with Bridgestone Golf

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Tiger Woods just appeared in a Bridgestone Golf Facebook Live video. While the audio isn’t the greatest (sounds like there’s some mowers rolling by), we’ve got to pass it along.

Check out the video below.

Woods initially discusses his wedges, before moving on to sharing some insights about how he hits his patented stinger–covering the ball, starting it farther right, and keeping his follow through short.

On his ball, the Bridgestone Tour B XS, which he presents as a softer ball well-suited to his swing, Woods says

“I need spin. I don’t spin the ball a lot. My swing has never produced a lot of spin. I’ve always been able to take spin off the golf ball–I grew up in an era where we played balata. What separated a lot of guys was the ability to take spin off the golf ball…to keep it below the tree line. There was a lot more movement in the golf ball.”

“My swing has naturally evolved. I’ve had different swings throughout the years, but each swing didn’t spin the ball a lot. So, when I get up to my long irons with a harder ball that most people would launch…I don’t. It falls out of the sky because it has so little spin.”

Woods mentioned that he hasn’t played Shinnecock since the course’s pre-U.S. Open makeover, but that he expects the course will be particularly difficult: an old-school U.S. Open with minimal graduated rough where it will be difficult to shoot under par.

Responding to comments, Woods sings Hazeltine’s praises and mentions he’d love to be able to wear shorts during PGA Tour events

“We play some of the hottest places on the planets and it would be nice to wear shorts…even with my little chicken legs,” Woods says.

Woods tells amateurs looking for more spin around the greens that they need a soft golf ball, mentioning that solid contact, maintaining loft, and allowing to club to do its job are key. Woods mentions that he has “a couple extra shots around the greens” thanks to the softness of his golf ball.”

We’ll next see the 14-time major champion in action at next week’s Memorial Tournament (which he discusses to wrap up the video).

 

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10 interesting photos from Tuesday at the Fort Worth Invitational

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GolfWRX is on the ground at Marvin Leonard’s famed pet project, Colonial Country Club, peeking into players bags and taking in the action on the driving range.

While you’ll want to take a trip through the buffet line, we’ve made you a plate of some of the tastiest morsels.

Absolutely savage new putter cover for Jon “Rahmbo” Rahm. Just killer.

Prettier than a new penny.

Spotted: Aldila Rogue Silver 130 MSI

Everything here is excellent. Just excellent.

More like Garsen Murray. Am I right?

If you were Aaron Wise standing over the winning putt at last week’s Byron Nelson, this is what it’d have looked like (of course, you’d have had a ball and the putter would be soled on the green, but you get the point…)

Abraham Ancer’s new Artisan wedges are simply incredible… All of this: Artisan star stellar stuff.

Rickie Fowler has gone grape.

You can’t fool me. You’re not Adam Hadwin, you’re a golf bag.

Is Patrick Cantlay considering a switch to a Cameron Napa?

Check out all our photos from the 2018 Forth Worth Invitational below.

Tuesday’s Photos

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Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums

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Tuesday’s Photos from the 2018 Fort Worth Invitational at Colonial

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2018 Forth Worth Invitational at Colonial Country Club (par 70; 7,209 yards). The event has now been hosted here for 73 straight years.

Headlining the field this week are Jordan Spieth, who’s currently ranked No. 3 in the Official World Golf Rankings, Jon Rahm (No. 4), Justin Rose (No. 5) and Rickie Fowler (No. 6). Joining them are notables Webb Simpson, who’s coming off his win at The 2018 Players, as well as Wesley Bryan, Jason Dufner, Bryson DeChambeau, Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Brooks Koepka, Louis Oosthuizen, Pat Perez, Adam Scott, Charl Schwartzel, Jimmy Walker, and last week’s champion, Aaron Wise.

Related

Last year, Kevin Kisner captured the second PGA Tour victory of his career after shooting a final-round, 4-under 66.

Check out our photos from the 2018 Forth Worth Invitational below.

Tuesday’s Photos

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Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums

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