If the final few holes of the Tour Championship were prelude for this week’s Ryder Cup, don’t stray far from your television. Rory McIlroy’s playoff win over Ryder Cupper-in-waiting Ryan Moore was some of the most compelling stuff of the year.
The head-to-head performance made McIlroy the early candidate for Man of the Match for the Europeans and took Moore from being fashionably mentioned among the cognoscenti to U.S. captain Davis Love III’s final pick on Sunday night.
Even before both teams were completely finalized, each side gave the other some extra reasons to be motivated if anyone needed anything more. Love called the U.S. the best team ever assembled. McIlroy praised the U.S. task force with tongue firmly in cheek. And Lee Westwood questioned whether the Americans were under too much pressure and whether having Tiger Woods as an assistant captain would actually be a good thing.
No one ever won the Ryder Cup by talking unless you count Ian Poulter and eventually, players are going to have to hit shots and try to hole putts.
Whether the European juggernaut can overcome the odds and win on foreign soil with six rookies or whether the U.S. task force and Love’s number crunching will be the formula for long-awaited success are the questions for the run-up to the cup, which begins Friday at Hazeltine National in Chaska, Minn.
But when the first foursomes match tees off at 7:35 a.m. CDT on Friday, the most well-thought strategy will give way to rapid heartbeats, sweaty palms, dry mouths and the rush of adrenaline.
And the Ryder Cup will write another chapter in its heart-wrenching legacy.