Winners, Losers and Draws in the Ryder Cup
by Doug Ferguson
SUTTON COLDFIELD, England (AP) ? The first shot struck in the Ryder Cup was Paul Azinger's drive into the right rough. The final stroke was a putt by Tiger Woods that turned away from the hole.
The intensity never let up over three days.
The surprising stars: Philip Price, who dealt the United States a blow by toppling Phil Mickelson; and Paul McGinley, whose 8-foot par putt clinched the Ryder Cup for Europe.
"Out of the shadows come heroes," European captain Sam Torrance said.
And out of the Ryder Cup come some observations:
Colin Montgomerie:@ What back injury?
Monty fooled everyone by waiting until the last minute to declare himself fit enough to play in his sixth Ryder Cup. He turned in his best performance, going 4-0-1 and never trailing in any of the 82 holes he played.
He was the "man of the match" for Europe, and the crowds roared just to see him walk to the tee.
"My wife said it's important that the American team realize how popular I am here in Britain," Montgomerie said with a laugh.
At the Belfry, he was the next best thing to the Beatles.
David Toms:@ Toms hasn't won this year, but count his Ryder Cup play as the next best thing to a major. He was the only Ryder Cup rookie to go all five matches (3-1-1), and he carried the load in two of his matches with Mickelson.
Had the United States received the help it expected from the bottom of the lineup, Toms' victory over Sergio Garcia would have been the key to winning.
Sam Torrance:@ He took a huge risk by putting his best seven players at the top of the lineup. Ben Crenshaw did the same thing at Brookline, but Crenshaw had no choice since the Americans trailed 10-6. Europe's captain also rested Bernhard Langer, and gave all his players a game before Sunday.
Paul Azinger:@ The 18th hole at The Belfry cannot be played without thinking of Azinger, who has hit three of the most memorable shots in Ryder Cup history.
His 3-wood over two sections of water in 1989 allowed him to halve the hole and beat Seve Ballesteros. His approach to 6 feet in 1993 for birdie gave him a halve with Nick Faldo. This year's bunker shot was the best of all.
He needed to hole the 40-foot shot or the Ryder Cup was over. That's just what he did, giving him a remarkable birdie and keeping the U.S. hopes alive a little longer.
David Duval:@ His final two matches won't make up for his worst year on tour, but they reminded people why he was No. 1 in the world at one time.
He was the only American who dared to drive the par-4 10th hole. His 4-iron into 6 feet on the 18th clinched his best-ball match. And after matching birdies by Darren Clarke three times on the back nine Sunday, he earned a halve with a 10-foot par putt on the 18th. Not many others at The Belfry could have made that last one.
Tiger Woods:@ His record for the week was 2-2-1. Woods gets high marks for his play, which was solid for most of the week and proved what he had been saying all along about team matches - the outcome is sometimes out of his control.
The downside? His "million reasons" comment the previous week, which were made in jest but shouldn't have been made at all. He also showed more individualism when he talked about realizing the Ryder Cup had been won by Europe as he played the 17th hole.
"At least I hit one of the best 3-irons I've ever hit," he said. "That was kind of cool."
Sergio Garcia:@ The 22-year-old Spaniard helped give Europe momentum early in the week and gave Lee Westwood confidence he desperately needed.
Still, Garcia didn't show much under pressure when he missed from 4 feet and 6 feet on the last two holes in best-ball play Saturday, and by missing two short birdie tries and hitting into the water on the 18th in his singles loss to Toms.
Curtis Strange:@ Putting his best two players at the end of the lineup backfired, especially when Woods' match proved meaningless. The strategy could have easily worked had Phil Mickelson come through against Price. Someone has to take the blame when the Americans don't win the Ryder Cup, and the convenient target is the captain.
PGA of Europe and European PGA Tour:@ The Ryder Cup came off without a hitch, but the shameless commercialism is tough to stomach. At the end of every match, two employees brought out large sandwich boards with every corporate sponsor, to serve as the background for television interviews.
Presidents Cup:@ The tension, pressure and enormous energy throughout the week brought the Ryder Cup to life - and exposed the Presidents Cup as a real exhibition.
Is anyone looking forward to South Africa?