‘Dream Team’ virus strikes again

Philip Consuegra

Everything was quite perfect for the U.S. Ryder Cup team this past weekend at Oakland Hill.

Perfect weather, perfect fans, great starts from the United States team everyday. Perfect opportunity to finally take back the Ryder Cup, right?

If anyone out there was paying more attention to football and baseball, he or she was missing out, because something big was occurring at Oakland Hill Country Club in Michigan this weekend. The European team, led by golf great Bernhard Langer, destroyed the United States in one of the most lopsided Ryder Cups in the history of the game.

Needless to say, it was ugly.

The Europeans seemed to have a better idea about American courses than the Americans themselves. The Euros swept the Friday four-ball, with only two halved holes counting for the United States all day.

Saturday was even more disastrous for the Americans, who won only one match and for all intents and purposes, put themselves out of contention for the Cup.

It was, in a word, laughable.

The only thing funnier that could have happened for the United States team was if John Kerry somehow managed to blame the United States’ loss in golf on George W. Bush.

This win for the Euros makes their fourth Ryder Cup victory in five years, which is impressive when you look at their lineup.

Not one player on the European team has ever won a major. Compare that to a whopping 12 for the Americans, and you have one important statistic. Not one European player even cracked the top five in the World Golf Rankings.

You have to go all the way to No. 8 on the list to find the highest-ranked European player: Padraig Harrington. Harrington is the only Euro in the top 10, compared to three for the United States: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Davis Love III.

So, you ask, why is it that with all these major championships and world rankings, the United States team gets embarrassed in the crib by a less impressive European team? Why is it that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson can’t lead a team to the Cup? They’ve proven they can win under pressure, why can’t they lead the other guys?

Allow me to come to bat for the American team in this one. It’s not often that I defend an all-star team that underachieves, but for a sport like this, you can’t put all of the blame on the team- just most of the blame.

First off, golf is a very individual sport. Team play in golf, especially professional golf, is rare. It happens every now and then, but for the most part, golf is played by one person against one thing: par.

In team play, the rules are completely changed, and par is thrown out the window. In team play, you can see your opponent. You can see what you have to beat. In addition, you sometimes have to rely on a teammate to get the job done in the foursomes.

It’s not surprising that the Euros waxed the Americans at this, and the Americans performed marginally better in the singles competitions.

But that’s still not a great excuse. So you have to rely on other players, big deal. Hey, it rains on the other team, too. I am in complete agreement on that fact, and I have yet another explanation as to why our American team just can’t get it done in the Ryder Cup. It’s the same thing that lost the Dream Team the gold: attitude.

Golf is no exception to the “big athlete, big attitude” rule. Tiger Woods fired his coach, thinking he could coach himself for the rest of his career. I guess we can all see how great that’s working out for him.

Phil Mickelson, as much as I love him, signed a huge deal with Callaway Golf in the middle of the Ryder Cup and put his first drive in the water. American Captain Hal Sutton put Tiger and Phil together for four-ball because he thought that “the world deserved to see Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson together.” Granted, Sutton could not have had any idea that Tiger and Phil would bomb the way they did. After all, he, as well as I, would have “bet the ranch” that they would have won.

But this past weekend, the American golfers caught the American “dream team virus,” the one that makes super teams choke. It’s main symptom? Ego.

The Americans are too worried about endorsements and what uniform Hal picked out for the next day to worry about the Europeans, who have virtually nothing to lose. They come from a position where if they lose, it’s no big deal. They lost to a super team. They have everything in the world to gain.

Perfect weather, perfect fans and great starts don’t win anything. As shown by the Euros, focusing on what’s important-team and knowledge-obviously win what is so coveted by Tiger Woods and all the rest of the United States golf community: a Ryder Cup.