News & ToursOctober 4, 2010

Media, Day 4: 'That shows the pressure of the Ryder Cup'

This one was tough to beat as far as daytime dramas go, provided one knew where to look. The final day of the Ryder Cup turned up on the USA Network, its third network in four days. Wouldn't want to disrupt the real daytime dramas on NBC, of course.

At least it had NBC's broadcast crew, including Johnny Miller, who surprisingly avoided the word "choke" until a few moments before Hunter Mahan's chip shot at 17. And at that, Miller employed only to suggest that the pressure was so great that even he was choking and he wasn't even playing.

When Mahan chunked the most important chip of this Ryder Cup, Miller tempered his response.

"Hunter Mahan never hit a chip like that, with lift, clean and place, maybe in his life," Miller said. "But that shows the pressure of the Ryder Cup."

Indeed, the pressure is palpable, which is why the Ryder Cup is often one of the best golf shows of the year.

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Tiger Woods found the gear he's been missing all year, the afterburner. Early on, Francesco Molinari was holding his own, even holding a 1-up lead on Woods through eight holes.

"Got to hand it to him," Miller said. "He's hanging in there against Tiger Woods. In Italy he might even be a super hero if he beats Tiger."

Then Woods went birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie, birdie, and for the first time in months genuinely seemed to be enjoying himself again.

"Nice to see him act like a kid again," Miller said following the eagle. Woods won, 4 and 3.

Said Gary Koch: "[Molinari] runs into the world number one who actually looked like the world number one today."

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On Sunday, Dottie Pepper said she thought that Jim Furyk and Dustin Johnson were overanalyzing the latter's putts, to his detriment. In the wake of Johnson's 6-and-4 victory over Martin Kaymer in singles, it would be hard to argue otherwise.

"I knew if I could just see one ball roll in the hole I'd be OK," Johnson said.

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American's leadoff hitter on Monday was Steve Stricker, who beat Europe's best player, Lee Westwood, 2 and 1.

"Feels good, feels real good," Stricker, as his eyes began to well up, said in his post-round interview with Roger Maltbie.

"Don't start," Maltbie said stopping the tears in their tracks. Stricker is a notorious weeper.

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Europe's Ian Poulter recently took exception to Miller's assertion that his ball-striking was suspect and responded tersely via Twitter. There was nothing suspect with his play in the Ryder Cup, where Poulter went 3-1, including a 5-and-4 victory over Matt Kuchar on Monday. Miller's response?

"Well, Ian, you can Tweet that you hit it like Hogan and putted like Watson."

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Koch, after Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson each won in a rout on Monday: "It's amazing how these guys play so much better when they play as individuals."

-- John Strege

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