Awarding some ‘Sammies’ one night early

Keegan Bradley's inspired play earns him the MVP for Team USA.
Robert Beck/SI

MEDINAH, Ill. –Why wait until Sunday night? We’re an instant-gratification society, and we’ve already got a pretty good idea who’s going to win this Ryder Cup. So let’s save time and hand out my Samuel Ryder Achievement Awards– The Sammies — right now:
Most Valuable American: The energy emanating from Keegan Bradley, not to mention the roars he inspired and the putts he holed, sparked the entire lineup. Has an American team ever had this much fun during Ryder Cup week?
Most Valuable European: After two playoff wins and a run at the FedEx Cup, Rory McIlroy looked a tad gassed. Nicolas Colsaerts, the find of the year, stood the tallest for the Euros with that eight-birdie, one-eagle performance on Friday afternoon.
Best uniforms: The Europeans sported orange and bright blue early in the week, and then blew it out Saturday with something between pink and magenta. The Americans were predictably staid.
Greatest New Ryder Cup Tradition: The yell-off. Bubba Watson incited the first tee gallery to cheer during his first drive on Friday afternoon. When Ian Poulter copied him Saturday, Bubba matched him. Nice break from golf’s usual sssh! mentality.
Best Mulligan: Medinah has gotten more facelifts than Joan Rivers. In the latest one, noted architect Rees Jones turned the 15th hole into a potentially drivable, risk-reward par 4. The strategy was hot and heavy there Friday morning, where several matches turned in favor of the U.S. Not only is it Medinah’s new best hole, it gives the course a pretty exciting four-hole finish.
Biggest feud: Nah, we’re not that lucky in this kinder, gentler Ryder Cup era. Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell chatted about taking a drop from a sprinkler head, calling in an official, but c’mon, this is kid stuff. How about at least a food fight?
Best Fosbury Flop: A number of players failed to play up to our great expectations. Lee Westwood was supposed to be the rock and team leader for Europe, but he did not have his game. If not for a heroic performance by Colsaerts on Friday, Westy would be winless.
Humanity Alert: Asked about his past Ryder Cup failures and team losses, Tiger Woods showed some rare humility and took responsibility for not getting his points. It was surprising to hear that from Tiger. And it was kind of nice.
United Nations Moment: Believe it or not, Tiger and Phil became a dynamic table tennis duo in the American team room. (According to Phil. ) If you can’t beat ’em, Tiger…
Most Inspirational: Seve Ballesteros. The Europeans may have been too inspired by Seve, whose likeness was emblazoned on the team bags. They hit it like Seve when they should’ve been putting like him.
Worst Showing by a Former No. 1 in the World: Take a number, fellas — Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood, Tiger Woods, Luke Donald. Nah, it has to be Kaymer. He’s only played once so far.
Best Two-Minute Drilling. It was short and sweet when MickelBrad (Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley) drummed LeeLuke (Lee Westwood and Luke Donald) in foursomes, 7 & 6. It lasted a mere 12 holes, and the Americans took only 43 strokes. Miniature golf rounds have taken longer.
Best SNL Spoof That Wasn’t: The only thing lacking during the excruciating opening ceremonies was an appearance by Andy Samberg to let us all in on the joke. Apparently Justin Timberlake was supposed to be funny, and that golf poem he read (to music) was supposed to be poignant. Then there were the PGA dignitaries, who notably declared, “Blah blah blah,” plus an errant fly-over that missed the mark. And what the hell does Michael Phelps have to do with the Ryder Cup? Why was he here and why didn’t anybody loan him a coat and tie?
Shot of the Week: Rory McIlroy’s chip-in from behind the fourth green on the opening morning. It looked like the start of another Euro-stampede, but it was the calm before the American storm.
Symbolic shot of the week: Tiger sniped his opening tee ball on Friday morning behind trees and against a temporary fence. That was his week of frustration in a nutshell. Even when he made seven birdies on Friday afternoon, it wasn’t enough to beat Colsaerts.
Most Underrated Assassins: It’s hard to get any attention with MickelBrad and TigerStrick, and with Bubba Watson asking the crowd to yell during his tee shots, but Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson are 2-0.
The Other Chicago Skyway: Paddy Power, the Irish bookmaker, paid to have a skywriter deliver pro-Euro messages above Medinah. “This is for you, Seve,” and the like.
Best Helicopter Ride: Caddie Steve (Pepsi) Hale whirled the flagstick over his head like a demented baton-twirler after a big putt by his man, Bradley. Some are sure to declare that bad form, but have they forgotten Jose Maria Olazabal dancing across the green at Muirfield Village in ’87?