The images of
stunned American faces after a bitter defeat at the hands of a talented band of
Europeans is becoming familiar to golf fans.
A year ago it was
the America men at Medinah coughing up a big lead on the final day and watching
the Euros spray champagne all over the manicured suburban Chicago landscape.
Sunday, it was
American women with that
anybody-catch-the-number-of-that-bus-that-just-ran-over-me look at Colorado
Country Club in the mile-high air near Denver after the Europeans polished off
a very convincing 18-10 victory and won the Solheim Cup for the second straight
First of all, give
the European women credit. They had never won this thing on American soil. They
had a young team and Liselotte Neumann, the original Euro invader in the
women’s game, the one who made Annika Sorenstam think she might be able to do
this, did a great job getting a very young team ready to play.
When Paula Creamer,
a stalwart of the American team, got dusted by 17-year-old Brit Charley Hull in
one of the early singles matches Sunday, you knew it was over.
It was probably
over Saturday afternoon when Neumann sat two of her most experienced players,
Suzann Pettersen and Catriona Matthew, for the fourball matches and the
Europeans swept all four points.
I would argue that
it might have been over a little earlier in the day when Anna Nordqvist dropped
that hole-in-one on Morgan Pressel and Jessica Korda on the 17th
hole of their foursome match. Pretty stunning way to end a match. Korda could
have jarred her tee shot on top of Nordqvist, I guess, but that’s asking a lot.
And that still would heft her and Pressel 1-down going to the 18th
Bottom line, though,
as with the Ryder Cup, the Europeans, when put in a team event, seem to putt
better than the Americans do.
The greens were
pretty severe at Colorado Country Club, not a shock when you consider one of
the greatest putters in the last, oh 50 years
or so, Ben Crenshaw had a hand in designing the course. It seemed like a
pretty neat course unless you were an American woman watching some European
dance around after dropping another long birdie putt.
Probably the two
most talented young players on the American squad, Lexi Thompson and the
enigmatic Michelle Wie, are below-average putters. I’m not sure exactly what
you do about that. At least Wie played well enough to silence the critics of
Meg Mallon for making her a captain’s pick.
probably the most talented player at the Solheim Cup and clearly a leader on
the European team, isn’t a great putter either.
There will be a lot
of talk about grit, but it will be just that, talk. But if grit is just
competing, than maybe our American men and women need to compete better. It’s
almost hard to imagine Creamer or Pressel or Stacy Lewis or Cristie Kerr being
more competitive, but I guess that’s the only thing you’re left with. That and
putting better, don’t forget the putting better part.
thing about the women’s game is that there still isn’t a vehicle that pits the
U.S. against a team with all those Asian women who have winning more than their
share of major championships lately. At least the U.S. would be a clear
underdog going into that competition.
Part of it, too, is
pretty simple: We’re the big, bad U.S. of A. We think we’re better than
everybody else, so when somebody gets a chance to knock us down a peg, you
better believe they’re going to give it their best shot.
The good news is if
you’re a fan of the game, there is absolutely no downside to a 24-year old
Swede like Caroline Hedwall coming here to go to college, winning an NCAA
championship while at Oklahoma St. and then coming back a few years later and
throwing a little 5-0 Solheim Cup weekend at her once genial hosts. The game is
better for being the worldwide game that it is, even if the U.S. gets savaged
in some team matches every other year.
The Solheim Cup
proved something else this weekend and that’s what great theater these team
things are. You can’t have them all the time or the golfers would all have
The advice to the
beaten American men of the 2012 Ryder Cup and the beaten American women of the
2013 Solheim Cup remains the same as it always is to teams that get beat in any
sport, no matter the margin: Get better, get smarter, putt better, just get