Ryder Cup, There’s Tension in the Air.

There is tension in the air as the Ryder Cup closed on the second day with the U.S.A. in firm command of the situation, with a little help from the officials and the rub of the green, which always went in their favor.

Jim Furyk first objected to a ruling given to Graeme McDowell on gaining relief from a sprinkler head, Furyk stated there should be no relief given and called for the head referee, who then subsequently changed the original ruling. Jim said of the affair;

“I looked over to see what was happening, I saw that he was going to get relief and get to probably drop the ball into the fringe so they’d be putting rather than chipping.  When I looked to see where the ball was, I believe it was a good four inches, I’m being probably conservative, four to five inches ahead of that sprinkler head. They were going to gain a big advantage by being able to drop that ball. He had a sticky lie and a very delicate chip and to be able to putt that ball would have been a huge advantage and I really didn’t feel in any situation, whether it be matchplay or medal play, that it could be deemed a drop.”

Europe's Graeme McDowell

Seems like Jim wants to win at any cost. What a different point of view than that of  Jack Nicklaus who 1969 conceded a putt to Tony Jacklin, to halve the entire match.  By giving Jacklin the putt, Nicklaus made the half look less like an accomplishment by the British (who had won the cup only once since 1933) than like a personal gift from Nicklaus. It also left forever hanging the possibility that the reigning British Open Champion might have gagged over his eighteen-incher. That’s one of the cool things about match play.

Later in the day Bubba Watson was given relief from the opposite side of the bleachers from the nearest point of relief, he chipped on and made birdie, any complaint from the Europeans, no absolutely not, the referee made a ruling and they got on with it. Justice was done in the end when McDowell and McIlroy won their match. But really sad to see the lengths some people will go to just to make sure they win. As they say in America, that was a win/win situation. The affair has put Jim Furyk into a bad place with regards good spirit and fair play, and how people all over the world gauge him as a man.

The U.S.A. finished the day still leading the Europeans by a comfortable margin, 9-4, and it will take a super human effort from the Europeans on the last day to change the course of this match. I just hope that tomorrow some of the decisions and bounces will go their way and make it an even contest. Tiger Woods suffered his third straight defeat in this Ryder Cup, eroding his record in this contest even further, his only chance of a point will come in the singles. Tiger is, and always has been a loner, and as such he will summon the effort required to win his singles match.

Europe managed to avoid a sweep, thanks to who else?  Ian Poulter and Justin Rose, who beat Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson 1 up. Poulter has Europe’s best winning percentage in Ryder Cup play with a 10-3-0 record, and there was no way he was going to let the Americans take a point from his match.

“It was absolutely key, Jose put us out No. 1 for a reason, and that’s to get the point and put the point up on the board.”

If Ian’s fighting spirit becomes contagious, the Europeans do still have a fighting chance, but no betting man would put his money on them. In the afternoon Ian and Rory secured the last point of the day, with Ian’s 5th straight birdie.

Royal Lytham, the 141st Open Championship.

The gallery’s around Royal Lytham are in anticipation of the 141st Open Championship, which starts in earnest on Thursday this week. The players have a lot of respect for the Old Claret Jug, revering its history, not even having a celebratory drink from it, no Champagne, nothing.

The current holder of the Claret Jug is Darren Clarke, who is well-known as a man who partakes of a tipple or two. Darren has too much respect for the trophy to even think about sipping a drink from it. Darren said after handing the Claret Jug back to the R&A  on Monday morning;

“I didn’t at any stage put any fluid in it. It is just too special a trophy. I have so much respect for the Open Championship, and I couldn’t get myself to do it. I was tempted on the Sunday evening and the Monday evening and Tuesday evening and Wednesday evening, and for about two weeks afterwards. But I never put anything into it.”

Talking about this years tournament, Darren has said the 206 bunkers on the course will really get everyone’s  full attention;

“It’s just a nightmare, they are very penal. There’s going to be occasions here this week where I think you’re going to see guys taking penalty drops out of them because they won’t be able to move their ball anywhere. Accuracy is going to be the key this week. It’s not really length off the tee, it’s keeping it on the fairways and keeping out of those bunkers.”

Darren Clarke

Darren Clarke hands back the Claret Jug to Peter Dawson, CEO of the R&A. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

In 1969 The Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes was won by a nervous Tony Jacklin, he was the first Brit to win the old Claret Jug since the legendary Max Faulkner in 1951. At his presentation ceremony Tony turned to Jack Nicklaus and said;

” I didn’t think I could be so nervous and play. And he said: ‘I know, isn’t it great?’  I’d never been that nervous before.”

Talking of nervous people, Bubba Watson is having some trouble concentrating on this tournament, it is the first time he has been out of the U.S. away from his wife and new-born son. Bubba said on Monday;

 “No matter if I’ve won the Masters or not, I have a lot going on in my mind, I’ve got issues. It’s only Monday right now so I’m real calm. There are a lot of things running through my head. This is a week that my wife is not here, my new son is not here, so the first time out of the country away from them. My head is always racing about something. I’ve got to calm my mind down and focus on golf and try to get better. When I focus right, I play pretty good, and when I don’t focus right, I miss the cut pretty quick.”

Just to really focus the players minds, apart from the 206 bunkers, the rough is deep and lush because of the unusually wet spring England has experienced.  Royal Lytham club professional Eddie Birchenough attest’s;

“If you get in some parts of the rough then players won’t even be able to find their feet.”