Friday 2 December 2016

Off the Ball: Sometimes the hype is justified

Joe Molloy

Published 05/10/2016 | 02:30

Patrick Reed of USA is congratulated by Rory McIlroy, right, after beating him in the Singles. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Patrick Reed of USA is congratulated by Rory McIlroy, right, after beating him in the Singles. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Sometimes sporting events are just irrefutably brilliant and live up to impossible expectations. I'm talking about Ryder Cup 2016. Must we wait two years for the next instalment? The golf on display was quite sensational.

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Phil Mickelson's match with Sergio Garcia had a "worse-ball" combination of 69 - outrageous. That's not to mention the fist bump gala that was Rory McIlroy versus Patrick Reed.

Michael Jordan infamously quipped 'Republicans buy sneakers too'. No doubt several high-powered Nike executives shifted uncomfortably as McIlroy trolled America for the weekend.

He had a fan ejected from the course, he bowed in the face of jeers and screamed "I can't hear you" after holing a monster 55-foot putt. We have an odd relationship at times with McIlroy.

Increasingly we glimpse his personality through sponsored videos and Instagram posts. It's all very produced and sanitised, so it was fantastic to see him lead the fight on opposition soil and damned be the consequences.

No doubt, right across the board, some of the fist-pumping and screams were excessive; these are a bunch of golfers after all. But it sure beats the vast majority of PGA and European events which pass off with barely a whimper.

Some quibbles can be made. Justin Rose likened the pin placements on Sunday to a 'pro-am'. And certainly on the 17th and 18th it all felt a bit too routine. But, as Lee Westwood showed on Saturday evening, there is no such thing as too routine a putt.

The Europeans lost the Ryder Cup on Saturday evening. They battled back brilliantly to narrow the gap to a single point.

No doubt Darren Clarke wishes he had not sent Westwood out in the evening and also kept Rafa Cabrera-Bello with Sergio Garcia.

Most likely the US would have won either way. Bring on 2018, with Shane Lowry leading the charge.

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