Despite success, Holmes and Weekley show they have a lot to learn

September 20, 2008

On the 464-yard, par-4 12th hole Weekley faced a slippery downhill
chip from about 35 feet away. After spitting out some tobacco juice, he
delicately chipped onto the green and watched his ball tumble into the
hole for a birdie.
The crowd erupted, and Weekley waved his arms and egged them on.
Then he turned and waved toward the grandstand on the other side of the
green. All the while, Westwood still had a 25-foot putt that could have
halved the hole.
"You walk a fine line when you start doing that sort of thing,"
Westwood said after the match. "I’ve still got a putt for halve. There
is no need to do it between the shots. At least wait until you’re
walking up to the green or walking off the green."
In some ways, the situation was very similar to the celebration on
the 17th hole at Brookline in the 1999 Ryder Cup, when Justin Leonard
holed a 60-foot putt against Jose Maria Olazabal.
When asked about the incident, Weekley said, "Well, I mean, I didn’t
mean to if I did. But the crowd — you can’t control the crowd a little
bit. And at the same time, we was trying to keep them positive and keep
us positive."
With experience, Weekley will learn that a player like Westwood gets
motivated when he feels he has been disrespected. If the crowd goes
bananas it’s one thing, but if he feels that an opponent has incited
them, that’s another.
The Americans’ second slip was more crucial because it cost them
points. They brought a 1-up lead to the par-5 18th hole, where Weekley
hit his drive right and into a creek. It was a mistake, but an
excusable one. But Holmes then found the water with his drive too. That
was inexcusable. In that situation, Holmes has to put his shot in the
play, even if it means hitting a 3-wood, 5-wood or even an iron off the
That blunder allowed Westwood and Hansen to relax, play
conservatively and win the hole. They halved the match and stole a
half-point that should have gone to the the Americans.
Weekley and Holmes had a successful Ryder Cup debut in many ways,
but if they can learn a few things from their mistakes, screams of
"Boooooo" and "Go Cats" will be heard all weekend.