Uncertainty

“The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain,” as Eliza Doolittle was finally able to slide across her Cockney tongue. But in Wales in October, it falls everywhere. And that’s the story of the first day at the Ryder Cup. 

When the Ryder Cup was awarded to the Celtic Manor Golf Club, nobody knew that a few years later, something called the Tour Championship and its attendant three playoff tournaments were going to be created. The net effect was that the Ryder Cup was moved from its traditional early September dates to early October…when it rains in Wales…and daylight has shrunk to just over 11½ hours. 

This is a problem when it takes approximately 4½ to 5 hours to play the slate of four Fourball (best ball) and Foursome (alternate shot) matches. When today’s Fourballs were suspended for over seven hours when the golf course became unplayable due to torrential rains–the lead match had finished the 6th, the last, the 2nd–everyone began talking about a Monday finish.

The course was so inundated by rain, the drainage system couldn’t keep up with it, and it became a sea of casual (standing) water. You get relief from casual water, but that becomes impossible when everything is covered in casual water. When you take relief from casual water, you must take complete relief. You can’t drop where it’s merely “a little bit better.” 

And so, from a mastery point of view, what to do when you’re called back to the clubhouse for a suspension of unknown length and it ends up being seven hours? 

There are all sorts of truisms the color commentators drone on about when this happens: stay on your feet, get off your feet, relax but not too much, don’t sleep, have some lunch, eat lightly. It was reported that the European team was playing Tiger Wood’s X-Box golf video game. 

But I’m not as interested in the traditional prescriptions as I am in things that allow for a masterful state once the delay is over. What to do with a disappointed, racing, impatient mind? Here are some foundational ideas: 

  • Everyone wants it to be the way it should be; this is the way it is.
  • It’s the same for everyone. 
  • With the change in schedule, a great deal of uncertainty will be injected into the mix. Be comfortable with uncertainty.  

A good one because while the players weren’t looking, the uncertainty was suddenly magnified. In order to get all of the matches completed by Sunday night, an ingenious, completely outside-of-the-box solution was cobbled together by the PGA and the captains. 

With a seven-hour delay, today’s matches were not completed. The first group got through 12 holes and the last, 9 (save for one four-foot putt). 

When they finish tomorrow morning, “Session 2,” will begin with six Foursome matches rather than the scheduled four. Since those six matches require all twelve players from each team to play, no player will be sitting out. 

In other words, the captains will not be able to “hide” a player who is not playing well, a possible option we discussed yesterday for Tiger if he didn’t play well this morning (he did). Neither can the captains hide rookies; everybody’s in the hopper in the toughest of the match play formats, alternate shot. So much for the captains’ long-debated, long-planned strategies. Uncertainty can bring about creativity, just more than they probably wanted in this case. 

“Session 3,” whenever that’s able to begin, will concurrently play two Foursomes (for the traditional total of eight) and four Fourballs (for a total of eight), once again exposing all twelve players. It’s probable that some of these matches will have to be completed Sunday morning. 

This will be followed by the twelve Singles matches on Sunday. 

I intentionally laid this out in all its tedious detail because some people will surely be interested in this level of detail, but also, as I pointed out in a previous post, you have to get the little things right. To operate in an uncertain world, it’s not sufficient to blithely wander around mentally clicking through a checklist on dealing with uncertainty. You have to pay attention to the details of life too. 

One of the details I paid attention to is that some readers, steadfastly watching their DVR recordings, don’t want the results revealed prematurely. The rest of you may find today’s results here

Enjoy the weekend matches. They’ll be historic. Play resumes at 3:00 AM (Eastern), ESPN kicks off its coverage at 2:30 AM and NBC will take us to the finish beginning at 8:00 AM (at least that’s what the websites say at this writing—double check before you go to bed). 

Thank God for DVR’s.

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