June 25, 2007

A recap from Cap'n Hal

How our little dogies didn't get it done in the Ryder Cup

Like I told my cowpokes before this shootin' match started, I've got a hankerin' we can whip these polecats real bad. Why, tarnation, we're the greatest golfers in the world, us bein' from America and most of Florida, while they're from England and London and some of them Spanish-speakin' places, and what they know about golf you could put in one saddle bag and still have room left over for three or four of my kid—ever how many I have.

As America's Ryder Cup captain—and I'm proud to have been given the honor by the nephew of an uncle I know in the PGA—I figured I'd get it over with quick.

That's why I went out there from the start with Roughrider Tiger and Bronco-Bustin' Phil. They're stronger than new rope. How was I to know they wouldn't hardly ever speak to one another, and just in general, all in all, play like hospital food?

Somebody said they didn't have no chemistry because they don't really like each other. I said, well, son, that's all you know. I spent a long week at Oakland Hills, and I never did see a test tube make a birdie, or even a par. I do wish Tiger, my big ol' sawed-off shotgun, had took more of a leadership role on the golf course, but I don't mean to impart anybody's reputation. And after it was all over, somebody asked me about Intangibles. My brain was a little scrambled at that point, but who's Intangibles? Did he even play?

Somebody said the expression on Tiger's face summed up their pairing when Phil looped that tee shot into the fence on 18, what cost 'em a double bogey and a loss in that foursomes match the first day to somebody. People want to know what Tiger was thinking in that minute.

I said, well, I may not be Socrates, whoever that is, but such a question don't even require an answer. You'd know dang well what Tiger was thinkin' in his head and elsewhere if you've ever walked in a kitchen and smelled three-week-old hamburger meat.

And let me say this in defense of the Calladoggy Company. It wasn't the Calladoggy 3-wood that tried to hit Phil's ball to Toledo. The club don't swing the man. You can stick that in your satchel.

People ask me why Tiger snubbed the press. Wouldn't go to the press hut after he lost three out of four matches the first two days. In the first place, I didn't know that was one of the job descriptions. Anyhow, this old ranch hand knows you can't tell a cattleman what to do if he's got a bigger spread than you do.

Meanwhile, Phil went in there and took his medicine and tore his heart out of his chest and throwed it on the floor, and I have long since picked it up and give it back to him.

Let me turn my old black Stetson around and I'll talk to you some more. I just realized I got it on backwards after watching Donald Trump plug his TV show during the opening ceremonies when I thought we should've been talking about golf.

People said I might have made a disparages remark about Mickelson when I benched him Saturday morning—when I said it wasn't gonna cause us any grief because he'd be cheerin' instead of playin'. I told Phil I was fixin' to keep a close eye on him to make sure he didn't kick Tiger's ball in a bunker, which would have been a joke I hoped he'd get, but then I seen him out there cheering for the right-colored shirts, and it gave my heart a free lift.

And I don't hold no grudges against Phil for hittin' that shot in the water on 16 Sunday, which gave Sergio the win. I do wish I hadn't instructed Tiger to rush out and root for Phil so the camera could show everybody what good podnoos they are. Only other thing I wish was that Tiger hadn't of said, "What's it gonna be on this shot, Phil—fence or water?"

Somebody asked me what I really thought about Chris Riley, who was one of my young rawhides, benchin' hisself in the Saturday-afternoon spellin' bee. He told me he was real tired and not overly familiar with this alternate-shot deal. I reminded him he was only 30 and Jay Haas was 50, but Jay was gonna play two matches in one day, what was the deal on bein' tired? He said he was emotionally drained along with it, and that's when I understood it, having been married enough times to understand it. Four or five, ever what it is. So I just wrote it off to the fact that you can't put a strawberry in a peach jar.

I congratulated Bernard Landers, my opposing captain, for the great job he did of crackin' open a 10-pound can of charisma and sprayin' his team with it. Bernard deserved the win. It was retrapudiation for him since he was the buckaroo who blowed the putt at Kiawah as a player, and allowed us to win. Now he's won as a captain.

I also congratulated Colon Montgomers. For Colon to haul off and grab the winning point on Sunday must have felt awful good, seeing as how he's a man whose wife went O.B. on him this year. Colon has one of the great Ryder Cup records, and I think all of Europe ought to be proud of him, even some of the Belgiums. And since their guys even out-autographed our guys earlier in the week, the folks in Michigan pretty much left Monty alone. That's why I didn't have to bark too much at the media types with accents for still bringin' up '99 outside Boston.

The Europes might have even scribbled an autograph for Larry Brown, the U.S. of A. hoop coach from Detroit who was on hand but still had a facial tic after gettin' back from Athens. The Olympics, is that next? Gettin' up for the Ryder Cup, the Presidents Cup and the stray alternate-shot match seems to have our guys rode hard and put away wet, but as Bernie pointed out, if you can't get up for the Ryder Cup, you best be checkin' your ticker.

Somebody said that when we got whipped 18½-9½ it was one of the few times the USA had been held to single digits. Well, I say it ain't single digits if you got that thingamagig hangin' on the 9.

So we got out-putted, not to mention out-droved and out-ironed. Tiger, Phil and Davis won a total of four matches among 'em, which is how many Sergio, Lee Westwood and Paddy Harrington won all by their lonesomes. Which reminds me to flush the world rankings down the toilet.

The Euros showed up all palsy-walsy with nicknames for each other like the Irish Monkey and the Midget, but my guys looked like they needed to be introduced to each other on the first tee. The other 12 fellas might be majorless, but Tiger's now won seven matches and lost 11 in the Ryder Cup, which sounds like a bad trip to the convenience store from this captain's saddle.

You can make what you want to out of the fact that the Euros have taken four out of the last five Ryder Cups, and seven out of the last 10. And the fact that they've got a bunch of young studs who are gonna be playin' Ryder Cups long after me and my cowboy hat go ridin' off into the sunset. But I say we're still the greatest players in the world, and I wouldn't take nothin' for bein' associated with this bunch of ring-tailed tooters, even if they couldn't hit their mouth with a dinner fork at Oakland Hills.

To comment, send e-mails to: jenkins@golfdigest.com.