1. The Ryder Cup. Spectacular shot-making, stomach-cramp-inducing drama from dawn to dusk, new heroes and goats every hour, new subplots every session, endless armchair quarterbacking, the most raucous crowd in golf … now I remember why this thing used to be such a big deal.
2. Cap’n Azinger. The dude is, in a word, cool, and he got his players to mellow out and play up to their abilities. And his innovative approach to fostering chemistry — basically breaking the squad into three four-man teams-within-a-team, each of which spent all week practicing and playing together — was as good as anything John Wooden ever came up with.
3. Boo. Undefeated on the course, MVP in the press room, beloved jester in the team room, it took Thomas Weekley all of one Ryder Cup to become a cult hero. How much of his aw-shucks charm is genuine and how much is schtick we’ll never know for sure, but I can resist it no longer.
4. The Commonwealth. Kenny Perry and J.B. Holmes came up big all week, and the lusty fans created a true home-field advantage. Valhalla, with its awesome par-3s, fun little par-4s and a couple of killer do-or-die par-5s, turns out to be a great venue for match play.
5. Young studs. Three stars were born last week — Anthony Kim, Hunter Mahan and Ian Poulter. These birdie machines will anchor their respective squads for the next decade and a half, and I can’t wait to watch it all play out.
1. Nick Faldo. Or, as one inspired U.K. headline writer dubbed him, CAPTAIN COCK-UP. Given Faldo’s analytical nature, it was a stunner that he could get so many things wrong. Given his social awkwardness, it was no surprise that players and reporters alike were baffled by his inability to articulate his strategies, such as they were. Somewhere Hal Sutton is smiling because he will no longer go down as the worst captain of the century.
2. Tiger Woods. Is it a coincidence that this U.S. team showed such cohesion in the absence of a remote superstar who has spent a career setting himself apart? I don’t think so.
3. Sergio Garcia. Thank you, Anthony Kim, for giving that bratty prima donna the spanking he so richly deserved.
4. Corey Pavin, Davis Love, Fred Couples and every other middle-aged warrior with designs on being the U.S. captain in 2010. Sorry, but it’s Zinger’s job if he wants it.
5. Jose Maria Olazabal. In case you missed it, he turned into Tony Montana at the Sunday night loser’s press conference, losing his cool and swearing oaths at a reporter who was critical of Manny, er, Faldo. Not an encouraging outburst by Europe’s presumptive 2010 captain.