MEDINAH, Ill. — The PGA Tour supplied the best tonic possible Tuesday to cure the Americans of a Ryder Cup hangover.
It staged a news conference to mark the official one-year countdown to the Presidents Cup, the one team event that Americans still seem capable of winning. Then again, it was held at Muirfield Village, where in 1987 they lost the Ryder Cup on home soil for the first time.
It hasn’t been the same since.
These days, the closest the Americans ever get to that 17-inch trophy is the emblem of it stitched on their team uniforms.
Europe now has won seven of the past nine times in the Ryder Cup, and the only reason the dominance isn’t even greater is because Justin Leonard knocked in a 45-foot putt on the 17th hole at The Country Club. The other win was in 2008 at Valhalla, even though the Americans didn’t have Tiger Woods. Or maybe they won because he didn’t play.
Before looking ahead to the 2014 Ryder Cup in Scotland , it’s worth looking back with a few observations about one of the best Ryder Cup competitions ever:
• Was this really the “Miracle at Medinah?”
This could be called the “Meltdown at Medinah,” depending on your colors. It was remarkable, no doubt, because six of the 12 singles matches could have gone either way.
This Ryder Cup had 24 of the top 35 players in the world. Throw in 18-hole matches, and there’s no such thing as a sure thing. Remember, Europe had a three-point lead going into the final day at Wales before a home crowd and it came down to the last match. The lesson going forward is that no lead is safe.
• Man of the match. Ian Poulter became the first captain’s pick to go 4-0, and he might have won them all if Jose Maria Olazabal had not held him out Friday afternoon.
His career record is now 12-3, the highest winning percentage of any European player in history.
• The next captain. Paul McGinley is the leading candidate for Europe, a decision with strong influence by the players. Nothing is clear from the PGA of America for the U.S. team.
There seems to be a template for the U.S. team that captains be former major champions in their late 40s. That would point toward David Toms, who played on three losing teams. Larry Nelson is a popular choice because he was overlooked. He’ll be 67 in 2014. And there is some thought to let Paul Azinger be captain again.
The last American who was captain more than once was Jack Nicklaus. That was in 1987 at Muirfield Village, and that didn’t turn out very well.