(Getty Images photo)
By John Strege
It is a moment generally lost in the years of greatness that followed, but is worth recalling here, the lesson that Arizona State's Phil Mickelson gave a college rival, Arizona's Manny Zerman, in the All American Collegiate in 1991.
Mickelson wanted a drop from what he said was a plugged lie in the mud, 50 yards from the green. Zerman would not allow him to take one, so Mickelson holed his next shot for eagle.
"The next time he wants a drop," Zerman's coach said to him, "give it to him."
We bring this up in the wake of the Graeme McDowell-Jim Furyk flap at the second hole of morning foursomes on Friday at the Ryder Cup. McDowell wanted a drop away from a sprinkler head. Furyk argued he wasn't entitled to one. A rules official eventually agreed with Furyk, raising the possibility that it was a pyrrhic victory for McDowell and partner Rory McIlroy.
"I think questioning the ruling on the second green backfired on the American team," ESPN's Paul Azinger said.
The European team of McDowell and Rory McIlroy appeared fired up after that and eventually took a 3-up lead early on the back nine.
"The whole dynamic began to change at number two when these took this match a little more personal," Azinger said.
Though Furyk and partner Brandt Snedeker pulled even, they lost the match at the 18th hole. But the impetus for the victory came in the nine holes following Furyk's challenge and helped prevent an American rout on Friday.
The next time he wants a drop, Jim, give it to him.
Tirico's great call
A remarkable day of golf came down to this, as told by ESPN's Mike Tirico: "The U.S. will lead. It will either be five-three or five-and-a-half, two-and-a-half. And has been the case most of the last 15 years in golf, one guy standing alone and all eyes are on him."
That, of course, was Tiger Woods, who was eyeing a birdie putt for him and partner Steve Stricker to halve the last match with Lee Westwood and Nicolas Colsaerts. Woods narrowly missed, and the U.S. leads, 5-3.
'Tiger needs to go out of character'
Tiger Woods' play in the morning match was unsightly, but his leadership qualities (or lack of them) were called into question as well, by both Strange and Azinger.
"He was a great teammate," said Strange, Woods' Ryder Cup captain in 2002. "He was fantastic in the team room. He was great on the golf course. The one thing I wish he would do more, even now, is be more of a vocal leader. He leads by example, very quietly. It would be very advantageous for him to put his arm around Steve Stricker a little bit more or whoever he plays with and help the team out a little bit more vocally."
Azinger: "Tiger needs to go out of character and become a little more of an encourager in situations like this."
ESPN, get back to live golf
ESPN began a recap of earlier play while two tight matches were still being contested, the second time on Friday that it broke from live play. At the conclusion of morning foursomes, with the afternoon fourballs already underway, it cut to Scott Van Pelt doing a 10-minute recap.
Golf Digest's Stina Sternberg, via Twitter, reacted to ESPN's miscue this way: "PSA: The Ryder Cup is still live, without highlights on rydercup.com and Sky online."
Curtis said what?
Andy North and Curtis Strange had this exchange regarding Europe's Nicolas Colsaerts:
North: "He looks like he's out playing with a bunch of buddies on a Friday afternoon. He's relaxed, he's laughing, he's smiling."
Strange: "I wish more players could play like that. Not take it so seriously. Just go play golf."
Say what? Strange, one of the most intense players of his generation, never played that way in competition.
Brandel Chamblee, on the wait for a ruling on the second hole: "30,000 PGA members how can there not be 2 around the 2 nd hole with furyk snedeker vs mcilroy mcDowell group, ruling please"
Golf Digest's Dan Jenkins: "Don't see this every day: Colsaerts, trying to play Tiger & Stricker by himself, is giving Westwood mouth-to-mouth resuscitation."