After a 9 year absence, the Ryder Cup now belongs back on US soil. While most of the congratulations go to the players, how about a little love for the 13th Man?
From the beginning, the hope was to bring the crowd into the tournament as the last member of the US team. The city of Louisville embraced its challenge with tickets and t-shirts, chants and support for not only the week leading up to the Ryder Cup, but the months and years before.
In a Ryder Cup victory where the US never trailed, won by the biggest margin of victory since 1981, and brought Kenny Perry some vindication from the PGA Championship in 1996- the crowd was always a factor. On paper, the US team looked a little short-handed and without Tiger Woods, few people believed this would be the year we’d take back the cup. But, with the help of the 13th Man, the 37th Ryder Cup belongs to the United States.
As a quick look back at those moments that kept the patriotic spirit from the Olympics running strong, here are some unforgettable moments for golf fans and the city of Louisville to remember forever:
* A hurricane CAN hit Kentucky... and can hit it hard. Few people outside of the situation could tell how disabled the city was before and throughout the Ryder Cup week... a feat in and of itself.
* If there’s a pep rally to be had, the city of Louisville will make it happen. So what if there had never before been a Ryder Cup pep rally in its storied history? To that I say: the Ryder Cup had never been held in Louisville either. Don’t be surprised if other cities now follow suit.
* You want to make a professional mad? Take a picture with a loud camera right before he hits the ball.
* "BOO-S-A, BOO-S-A": Boo Weekley. He looks like he could live next door to you, he talks like most people you know- yet, you know he’d have you in stitches from the moment you come into contact with him. On Sunday afternoon, he rode his club like a Derby horse from the opening hole, and you can bet those who didn’t know him before, certainly do now.
* The European threesome of Garcia, Harrington and Westwood... If they had their teams hopes and talents riding on their backs, they are certainly going home empty. A word likes “choke” come to mind.
* Speaking of “words that come to mind”... Whiner. And, the award goes to Lee Westwood. He called out the 13th Man several times in reference to being disrespectful and distracting to play. I’m no huge golf fan, but being a sports fan I can say... well... if you can’t take the heat- don’t play a professional sport, don’t travel to opposing countries and do not... I repeat do NOT complain about the fans when you’ll face them again the next day. What did he expect to happen? Nobody likes a whiner.
* Ian Poulter somehow made spikey hair and visors look cool... in golf.
*Surprise to the world: Kentuckians can play a sport outside of basketball. What an incredibly remarkable accomplishment for JB Holmes and Kenny Perry. They not only made the team, but also played in (and won) a Ryder Cup in their home state. It's an incredible feat and something they have both said is the greatest point in their careers.
* The PLAYERS chanting back to the CROWD.
*Michael Jordan wasn’t the most sought after athlete on grounds.
*The lyrics to the infamous “Ole” chant, sang by the Europeans at seemingly every event from soccer to rugby were changed to “No Way”. It’s not the most creative change, but effective none-the-less.
*Anthony Kim- he may be the young blood who can bring a new breed of attitude and spirit to golf... and he’s as talented as he is animated.
* Louisville can successfully pull off a world-class event... and make a difference in doing it in a style all its own. If you think the pep rally, the 13th man theme and the overall spirit and excitement of this city didn’t make a difference, just ask the players how it impacted their game.
-and ask the Europeans how it affected THEIR game.
*Captain Paul: Will he be back? He managed to put together a team without the best player in the world and against all odds and in a manner all his own and masterminded a gameplan to give the US the Ryder Cup trophy for the first time in almost a decade. If there’s such a thing as favorite in the race for captain in 2010- you’d hope he’d be at the top of the list.
All in all, it was a great Ryder Cup. Everyone in Louisville knew Louisville would be a great host city and would bring out some memorable moments. The support was there, all that was missing was the US team members proving we were the best in golf. They players did their part, the city did its part and the rest... is history.
US: 16 ½ EUROPE: 11 ½