Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sep20_strickerpm_600x399 LOUISVILLE, Ky. — In each of the past three Cup competitions, America has had at least one bulldog player—a back-alley brawler who played golf with a chip on his shoulder and dirt under his fingernails.
Chris DiMarco filled the role at the 2005 Presidents Cup, teaming with Phil Mickelson to win three matches before emphatically holing the winning putt in his singles match.
Things didn't go well for DiMarco at The K Club during the 2006 Ryder Cup. Then again, things didn't go well for any of the Americans in Ireland that week. Still, everyone loved having him on the team for what he brought to the clubhouse.
At Royal Montreal in last year's Presidents Cup, Woody "Aquaman" Austin became America's new sweetheart scrapper. Paired with Mickelson, his determination and feisty nature were inspiring; they won two of a possible four points together, going 1-0-2.
Neither of those players is here at Valhalla. When Paul Azinger decided not to give a captain's pick to Austin, the United States team seemingly lacked its enforcer.
No offense to Woody, but we've learned here that the United States Ryder Cup team is filled with gritty, passionate golfers. We have seen emotion and fire from rookies like Boo Weekley, Anthony Kim and Hunter Mahan, plus fist pumps from veterans like Justin Leonard, Jim Furyk and Mickelson. Even the mild-mannered Steve Stricker got in the act Saturday. After Sergio Garcia let loose a "C'mooonnnn! C'mooonnnnn!" after holing a birdie putt on the par-3 eighth hole, Stricker holed a long birdie of his own and made one of the most subdued fist pumps in sports history (above).
Some golfers show their emotions all the time, while others are quiet by nature. But when the Ryder Cup is played two years from now at Celtic Manor in Wales, let's remember that anyone can transform into Dirty Harry in a competition like this. (Photo by Kohjiro Kinno/SI)

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