MEDINAH, Ill. — U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III will take some flak for benching Team Terrific (Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley) in favor of Team Tiger (Woods and Steve Stricker).
The Terrifics are 3-0 and made such quick work of Lee Westwood and Luke Donald in morning foursomes, they were finished by brunch. The Tigers — despite Woods’ electric back nines — have had as much success together as Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries.
But before you go hating on Love, keep this in mind: Mickelson asked out.
Asked if he considered putting The Terrifics out Saturday afternoon, Love replied from behind the 14th green: “There was a thought. But Phil had a plan too. Phil wanted to play three matches and then be ready for singles. He was adamant. He said: ‘Don’t put me back in. We’re ready to sit out.’
“They all understand: You’ve got to be ready” for Sunday.
Indeed they do. A 10-6 lead after four Ryder Cup sessions is roughly equivalent to a 10-6 lead for the home team heading into the bottom of the fifth.
It’s nice, but it makes you wonder: Is the American bullpen full of closers?
Some questions already have been answered after two days. Yes, Chicago can successfully run a world-class golf tournament.
The talk heading into the Ryder Cup from members of Chicago’s golf community — shoot, even some members of Medinah — was that the brownish, bumpy fairways would look awful on TV.
Those fears turned out to be hogwash.
The players have raved about the conditions, and NBC’s Johnny Miller called the greens perfect.
“It’s nice to hear that after all the struggles we had with the weather,” said Mike Scully, Medinah’s director of golf. “We wanted to showcase Chicago and this facility, and we wanted to help our guys win the Cup. We’re holding up our end of the bargain, and the players are doing it with their clubs, which is fantastic.”
Day 2 of the Ryder Cup had it all:
Ian Poulter’s demonic eyes. Poulter lying on his chest to read Rory McIlroy’s birdie putt on 18. A near-ace from Luke Donald on 17. An unforgettable Dustin Johnson deuce on 17. Woods pointing at the cup after making birdie on 16.
Two past presidents, both named Bush, riding around on golf carts. An 18-time Olympic gold medalist, Michael Phelps, following matches inside the ropes.
Clever fans (“Colsaerts, you’re away!” after Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts’ bunker shot on 15 stopped just short of the pond.) Encouraging fans (“I want 350, DJ!” to Dustin Johnson before his drive on 16.) And obnoxious fans — namely the one that hit Bubba Watson in the back after he hit from the woods on 12 (“I really don’t like big crowds,” he said. “And I don’t like people touching me.”)
Mayor Rahm Emanuel stopped by to joke about “the executive order” for perfect weather. The only clouds Saturday afternoon came from a skywriter: WE STILL BELIEVE IN EUROPE.
Fair enough. But after this spectacular Ryder Cup, fans should also believe in Medinah.
“It’s an unbelievable event, an unbelievable experience,” Bradley said. “Chicago should be very proud of the fans. There hasn’t been much unsportsmanlike conduct … and it’s obviously a huge advantage to be in front of your home crowd.”
Love’s low-rough course setup can be described, simply, as mission accomplished. In the afternoon best-ball matches, no American team produced fewer than seven birdies. Watson and Webb Simpson made nine in 14 holes.
“It has been fun golf,” Love said. “We like hearing the cheers.”