What no JJ?
- 23 Sep 06, 03:28 PM
K CLUB – So what have we learned since lunchtime (there’s another meal reference for you, Garrett!)?
One, Tom Lehman doesn’t read this blog. Or if he does, he doesn’t care for its opinions.
And two, either NBC Sports or the staff in the media centre do because our audio feed to the US TV coverage has been stopped. This is a shame because Johnny Miller and the gang agreed with me about giving Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson some Ryder Cup rest.
So what did Cap’n Tom do this afternoon?
He backed his best pairing to play their way into form, reprised a successful duo from previous contests, blooded the last of his rookies still waiting to feature and dropped his second hottest player.
Lehman said keeping faith with Tiger and Furyk was not a tough decision. Tiger is the best player in the world and that makes him fairly indispensable. Furyk doesn’t deserve to be dropped. He has largely carried the world number one for two days.
With hindsight, the US skipper is probably right. Woods may well not have managed a birdie on his own for 25 holes but omitting him would have handed the Europeans a psychological trophy.
His reasoning for keeping Mickelson out there was probably the same. His bad bits haven’t been as bad as Woods’ bad bits but he has had so few good bits I can scarcely remember them.
Teaming him with the always steady David Toms is a good move, though. They have played five times together in Ryder Cups before, picking up three and a half points.
But they will have their work cut out this afternoon as they have drawn European talisman Sergio Garcia and world number nine Luke Donald. This double act is three for three in Ryder Cup action and Garcia is chasing an eighth straight foursomes win.
Getting Vaughn Taylor involved had to be done and pairing him with Stewart Cink seems reasonable enough.
The strange decision is dropping JJ Henry. American journalists were stunned yesterday when the rookie’s five-birdie fourball showing wasn’t rewarded with a foursomes outing and they were equally perplexed by his omission this afternoon.
Ahhh, but timing is everything. Lehman had to get his foursomes picks in at almost exactly the same time Henry was starting to heat up on the back nine.
And as those picks were being announced to us the big-hitting 31-year-old was single-handedly dragging his team back into the contest. A fantastic eagle at 16 (only the second of the weekend) was followed by a textbook birdie at 17.
We had heard he was no mug and now we were seeing it. He gives the ball the most enormous ride and putts well in patches.
Sadly for him, and perhaps significantly for Europe, one of those patches came to an end just when he and his team really needed it to last a little longer. Having found the green into two, he pushed his long eagle putt 12ft past and then saw his one coming back flirt with the hole but fail to drop. Paul Casey then drained his 6ft putt for birdie and half a point.
By such margins are “one hell of a beatings” dished out.
Lehman needs every single one of his hunches to come off from now on in if his team are to claw this one back.
Ian Woosnam, on the other hand, could just reshuffle his pack, rest 100%-ers like Darren Clarke and Jose Maria Olazabal and replace them with Ryder Cup heroes like Colin Montgomerie and Paul McGinley.
I suppose it's all about options. Woosie's got 'em and Lehman ain't.
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