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TEE TIME: Ryder Cup golf’s team showcase

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By Dennis George

If you thought the climatic ending of the PGA was grip-your-chair hold-on-tight don’t-go-to-the-bathroom type of action, you’re going to enjoy this weekend.

It’s the Ryder Cup.

It’s when golf changes from an individual sport that pits man versus the course to a team sport that can force one man to bear the weight of an entire continent on his shoulders.

It’s Bernard Langer, he of the many different putting grips to overcome the yips, missing a six-foot putt on the final hole in The War on the Shore in the 1991 Ryder Cup at Kiaweh Island that would have beaten Hale Irwin and enabled Europe to hold onto the cup.

It’s Mark Calcavechia, in the same year walking along the beach in tears, after he had Colin Montgomerie dormie with four holes to play, and crumpled under the pressure and lost all four holes by hitting shots that were in the mold of a Sunday hacker.

And, of course, it’s Martin Kaymer of Germany, making amends for countryman Langer’s miss, draining a seven-foot par putt to put the exclamation point on the European Sunday singles comeback to retain the 2012 cup at Medinah.

The finals are today at Gleneagles.

It’s a style of play that neither team is used to.

There’s the four-ball matches in which it’s our team’s best score against yours. It’s match play and not stroke play.

And then there’s the alternate shot format in which it’s incumbent on the captain to pair players whose games and temperaments are compatible.

And of course, on Sunday, it’s singles match play in which a team captain must select the order to send out his players. Do you lead with your top guns if you’re losing, and do you back stack your team if you’re ahead?

It’s a strategy to keep your eyes glues to.

The PGA of America has pulled out all of the stops, naming Tom Watson, the most revered American in the United Kingdom, as the team captain.

And while the pundits are claiming that the American team is a decided underdog, I don’t buy it. I think the stellar play by Rory McIlroy has some heads swimming in that direction.

It’s on a course that was designed by Jack Nicklaus so it’s not the traditional Scottish-style course.

The American team has a higher world golf ranking average. There’s Ricky Fowler with his top 10 finishes in the four majors and Masters champion Bubba Watson. Matt Kuchar and Jordan Speith started the year on a roll, and veterans Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk can play key roles if their balky putters come to life.

Of course, the play of McIlroy and Kaymer in winning three of the four majors puts a lot of attention on the Europeans. But Ian Poulter, whose eyes look like their bulging out of the sockets when he performs as he did at Medinah, has struggled this year. Sergio Garcia had a solid season and wants to follow in the footsteps in the his mentors Seve Ballesteros and Josa Maria Olazabal, both stalwarts in the European drive to dominate the competition.

I like the Europeans.

Not as a favorite.

Don’t call me unpatriotic, but rather, respectful.

I like the way the Europeans do things.

They play loose

They play to have fun.

They are savoring the moment.

And when things go wrong, they face the music. With class.

Think back to 2011 when McIlroy blew his best chance to date to win the Masters. When it was over, he answered every reporter’s question in what had to be the darkest moment of his career. He answered them truthfully and took the blame for what happened.

Enough of me.

Ole, Ole!

Local League Results
Bud Light Women’s League
First place: Joan Rizer/Iva Hamilton and Paula Burkot/Vicki Renisch (tied with 17.5 points)
Third: Peggy Stallings/Cindy Collins (16.5)
Fourth: A.J. Burba/Patti Etheridge (15.5)
Low gross: Peggy Stallings (41)
Low net: Barbara Walker (29)

Boone’s Butcher Shop (Morning League)
First place: Danny Hayden/Larry Ball (41 points)
Second: Mike Bartoszek/Bill Osbourne (39)
Third: Mike Travers/Dennis Lee (38)
Low gross: Doug Lyvers, Mike Bartoszek, and Dale Smith (tied with 37)
Low net: Doug Lyvers, Mike Travers, Mike Bartoszek, and Don Hardin (tied with 35)
Closest to the hole: Joe Jones (#2) and Alex Hey (#7)

Boone’s Butcher Shop (Afternoon League)
First place: Mike Wheatley/Joe Clayton (45 points)
Second: Joe Judson/Chip Spalding (43)
Third: John Peterson/Bill Hardin (41)
Low gross: Joe Judson and Danny Nally (tied with 36)
Low net: Danny Nally and Steve Long (tied with 33)
Closest to the hole: Bruce Hey (#2) and Joe Clayton (#7)

OKH Men’s League
First place: Mike Bartoszek/Troy Adams (24.5 points)
Second: Richie Berry/Denny Berry (21)
Third: Kenny Hayden/Byron Hayden and Lincoln Buzick/Brent Monin (tied with 17.5)
Low gross: Richie Berry, Patrick Conway and Bill Bartoszek (tied with 1-under par 35)
Low net:Mike Bartoszek (29)
Closest to the hole: Joe Buckman (#14)