Media Watch, Day 1: The wild, wild wet
The foul weather that plagued opening-day play in the Ryder Cup in Newport, Wales, was unwelcome anywhere, save, perhaps on the West Coast, allowing viewers to miss virtually nothing of ESPN's telecast that began at 11:30 on Thursday night.
None of the morning fourball matches -- all of which should have been completed, weather permitting -- had advanced beyond the fifth hole, as we learned when tuning in about 5 a.m. (PDT) on Friday. The only catching up that was necessary pertained to the rain suit controversy.
"The Americans have a little bit of a problem," Paul Azinger said. "Wardrobe malfunction, let's say." Later, Azinger said in defense of the players, "It's not prima donnas complaining they don't like their rain gear. They're wet."
Rick Reilly, meanwhile, answered a question that many in the viewing audience no doubt had: Why would anyone expect anything different, playing a Ryder Cup in Wales in October? Reilly explained that the Ryder Cup was awarded to Wales before the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup playoffs had been established. The playoff events pushed the Ryder Cup from September into October.
The print media in the U.K. took the opportunity to blame the FedEx Cup:
-- Mark Reason of the Telegraph called it "a day of embarrassment caused by greed and incompetence...The decision to push the Ryder Cup into October in order to accommodate the end of season FedEx Cup cash-fest in the States has brought undeserved misery to golf fans and Wales."
-- Paul Hayward of the Guardian suggested that the later start might drive the Ryder Cup from the United Kingdom and to continental Europe, for its more accommodating October weather.
Meanwhile, when headlines are mentioning rain suits, the only conclusion to be drawn is that the first day was a washout artistically. A sampling:
-- From the Wall Street Journal: "Faulty Rain Gear Leaves US Team All Wet"
-- From the Guardian: "Rain forces USA to spend Â£4000 on waterproofs"
-- From the Mirror: "US stars forced to buy new waterproofs after torrential rain"
What were the players doing during the rain delay? "The Europeans are Tweeting," Azinger said on ESPN. "They're Tweeting pictures of, like, Padraig (Harrington) asleep." He identified Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter as those posting on Twitter.
"People are saying, 'why are the Europeans so relaxed?'" Azinger said. "The Americans aren't even allowed to Tweet. Who thought that Twitter would even be an issue?"
-Azinger clearly was the star of the ESPN telecast, to wit this opinion of Tiger Woods and his swing changes: "He's willing to take anybody's swing advice right now. He seems to be a little bit lost. He's practicing with gloves under both arms, trying to stay connected. I don't understand it. You've got arguably one of the greatest players of all time and he's just switching to some other guy's swing. It just doesn't make sense to me. Nothing against Sean Foley or Hank Haney or anybody else for that matter. But Tiger's got to have ownership of what he does best."
Curtis Strange's response? "Well said, Paul."
-- John Strege