124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

The Loop

Ryder Cup: What Underdogs?

September 18, 2008

Maybe it was Carrie Underwood's uplifting lyrics Wednesday night at the big Ryder Cup Gala or the Sarah Palin-inspired talk of a McCain victory despite every conceivable factor arguing against it, or maybe it's just the biennial flag-waving, or perhaps the open bar, but media friends were talking today as if they think the Americans might actually win this thing.

It's Thursday of Ryder Cup Week. Do you know where your bookie is?

The U.S team win? Haven't heard that since Darren Clarke cried into Woosie's shoulder after dispatching Zach Johnson in Ireland. Hadn't we all agreed, finally, after how many consecutive drubbings, that the U.S. side had no shot, no Tiger, too much inexperience, no chance? Oddsmakers certainly did. They make the Europeans 2/3 favorites. (You can get odds on every category of peformance).

But talk to several of my friends here in the US media and you'd wonder who were the underdogs. Big John said: "Mark my word. Hunter Mahan will lead this team to victory." John, to his credit, welcomed all comers and is now risking several expensive meals on his Crenshawesque hunch. I was shocked when Jay, a near-ancient observer of these proceedings, said:"The U.S. team will win." Just like that. Mike said: "Look at the teams. Tell me it would surprise you if any member of one team defeated any member of the other." Moe agreed, although, he's still leaning heavily Euro. "It's the percentages. Yes, any of them could beat any of us. But overall they're better than us. The Euros will win."

Going into thursday morning's foursomes, where the Captain Azinger, seemingly acknowledging the strength of the European side based on past foursomes performance--Europe has 52 1/2 foursomes points against 43 1/2 for the U.S. since 1983--said: "If you go on the past, in this game, you're not going to be successful."

Ok, but this is me not wagging my finger at you. I don't have a feeling. I'm afraid the oddsmakers are right.

--Bob Carney