Second To None

MEDINAH, ILLINOIS | It was a song by Sinatra. Our kind of town, Chicago was. A poem by Sandburg. The City of Big Shoul¬ders, indeed.
Chicago, specifically the suburb of Me¬dinah, got its hands and its passion on the 39th Ryder Cup and turned it into a huge, noisy, joyful carnival of sport.
It didn’t matter if Medinah Country Club was smack in the landing pattern for O’Hare Field and you wanted to ask, “What time does this green take off for Frisco?”
It didn’t matter that little men in green “Mobile Device Policy Enforcement” vests grabbed fans taking photos with cell phones. Oh, the price of technology.
It didn’t matter the wait to cross the Lake Kadijah bridge, from the second tee to the second green, was almost as long as that for the Cubs to get to a World Series.
This was Second City going first rate, 60,000 fans a day clearing their throats – “U-S-A, U-S-A” – and clearing out shelves in the merchandise tent for any parapher¬nalia that might remind them of a weekend which for the world of golf will last forever.
Does everyone in the Midwest wear size medium?
A week which began with even Bears fans bemoaning the fate of the hated Packers because of that botched call by a replacement official came to a close with a lot of handshakes after the Europeans made a stunning rally to continue many Ryder Cups of disappointment for the U.S.
Chicago, that toddlin’ town, tool maker, stacker of wheat, as Sandburg wrote, “its lifted head singing so proud to be alive,” offered a week of sunshine – leaking rain suits, who needs them? – sportsmanship and success.
Michael Phelps, the Olympian, climbed out of the pool and into action, trading his Speedos for a sand wedge and Tuesday playing in something called the “Captain’s Challenge.” Three Hall of Famers, Stan Mikita, hockey; Richard Dent, football; Scottie Pippen, basketball; showed up at the Wednesday night gala. That cost some¬thing like $500 for the dinner and another $300 to hear Justin Timberlake say, “I’m not here to talk to an empty chair,” and the comedian George Lopez knock Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, joining the chorus in Chi-town as it were.
“Da Bears,” U.S. Ryder captain Davis Love III offered. “Did I say that properly?”
Absolutely.
Michael Jordan was there. Jordan was everywhere, as he was supposed to be. He’s been at every Ryder Cup since 1995. So, having been appointed an honorary team member by Love, his onetime North Carolina classmate, MJ damn sure was going to be at the one in the town where he led Da Bulls to all those championships.
Friday, Jordan posted – he could do that from the guard position, but this is a different definition – himself next to the second green, as his pal Tiger Woods came through with partner Steve Stricker.
It was the iconic Cub slugger Ernie Banks who used to tell us, “Let’s play two.” For Woods and Stricker, losers in all three team matches, maybe that should be, “Let’s play, too.”
They had a teacher’s strike in Chicago, which ended just about the time the Ryder Cup arrived. They had hopes for a White Sox berth in the baseball postseason, which still were barely alive about the time the Ryder Cup departed.
Luke Donald, the Englishman and team Europe member, went to university at nearby Northwestern and lives in the north suburbs part of the year. “Hopefully, I can garner a little bit of the support of the crowd because of that and turn that into a slight advantage for Team Europe,” Donald said before the competition started.
Hey, this is Chicago, where the fans tail¬gating before Bears games make obscene gestures at opponents’ buses.
Where when in the third round of the Saturday foursomes, the Belgian, Nicolas Colsaerts, hit his tee ball into the water at 17, the crowd was ecstatic. And loud. Maybe Michael Phelps should have dived in to hit the approach.
Al Capone thrived in Chicago. Frank Lloyd Wright designed in Chicago. Richard Daley set up a political machine in Chicago. Mike Ditka won a Super Bowl in Chicago.
In Chicago, however, the talk too often is about the Cubs, without a champion¬ship since 1908 and their park, the friendly confines, of “beautiful Wrigley Field.”
And don’t mention Steve Bartman, the guy who reached for the ball in the 2003 NL playoffs and kept Moises Alou from making the catch. The Curse of the Billy Goat, cast upon the Cubs, is a sore subject.
But Chicago knows how to hold a golf tournament, as it held this one in con¬junction with the PGA of America and the European PGA. Everything came together at the 2012 Ryder Cup, fair skies – “It’s like this 365 days a year,” lied Mayor Rahm Emanuel – fine golf and a deserved feeling of accomplishment.
As Sinatra would sing, “My kind of razzmatazz, and it has all that jazz.” Which would be very clear if you’re not under the flight path to O’Hare.

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