I finally figured out what it is about the Solheim Cup, the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup.
I spent hours yesterday plodding through my DVR recording of the first day of the bi-annual Solheim Cup coming this year from Killeen Castle Golf Club just a little outside of Dublin, Ireland, in Dunsany. Yet I was glued to it throughout.
Why? It’s the points. Or more precisely the finite points. You know, in football, if the other team gets three touchdowns in the first half, it’s not good, but it’s not all that bad because there are infinite points. You could score six touchdowns in the second half. Same thing in baseball. You could come out of the first inning down four to nothing, but it’s only the first inning. There’s still eight more innings and an infinite number of runs that could be scored. “No problem, we’ll get ‘em back.
But in the Solheim Cup (and the other two), once a point is won, it’s a point that’s gone. There’s a point per match; four in the morning matches and four in the afternoon for the first two days and then one for each of the twelve singles matches on Sunday. Twenty-eight precious points.
So each pairing plays their match with the normal ebb and flow you get in match play, up so many holes and down so many holes. And with professionals, the matches are almost always tight. But you have some wiggle room to lose a hole or two and sometimes even three. But it’s all towards the end of winning that precious point at the end of the match.
So as you’re watching, you can’t escape the inevitability of that point creeping closer and closer. And if you’re playing, well, times ten.
So in the morning matches, the Americans won the first two matches and the Europeans won the other two: a 2 – 2 tie.
But while all of that was going on, the mind wandered as the hours inevitably ticked off. Tick, tock. Tick tock. Would Michelle Wie rise to the occasion as she did two years ago? Or, except for the T2 in Canada, would there be a repeat of her mediocre outings in the last half of the season? She rose to the occasion. She and Christie Kerr made six birdies and won 2 Up. And how would all of the other pairings do under the heat of the Solheim?
And which four players were sitting out the morning matches and would they all play in the afternoon? And most notably, how would the controversial pick, Ryann O’Toole do? She’d missed all three cuts once she was selected. Was this a mistake by Captain Rosie Jones? Nope. With partner Christine Kim, she played like a confident veteran in the afternoon to halve her match and win the confidence of Jones; she’s putting her back out in today’s morning matches. (Here’s a link to Beth Ann Baldry’s Golf Week article, “O’Toole shows she was worth captain’s pick.”)
But while all of that was unfolding, it was an interminable wait. If you’re a golf junkie, you can’t get enough of the matches. But no sooner do the morning matches come to a close than the long slog begins all over again in the afternoon. With all the same kinds of curiosity and questions. And still the points keep inexorably marching toward you. Who will pick them off?
And that’s just from the observers’ point of view. If you’re playing in the matches, you have all of that plus the physical demands of playing as many as 36 holes in a day. The player has the advantage of being able to stay engrossed in the business at hand. But the spectator keeps getting yanked out of the present by the hopscotching director trying to capture the action of all eight players in all four matches.
And still the points move closer…until finally it’s down to just a few holes, the match and maybe even the Cup lying in the balance. And the anticipatory thrill of victory or the agony of defeat overwhelms everything. And then it’s done. The Europeans won the afternoon matches 2 ½ to 1 ½.
So 4 ½ to 3 ½ at the end of the day. A brief celebration or commiseration and then the wonder starts all over again about who the pairings will be on the morrow.
And how those finite points will fall.