So the United States win back the Ryder Cup. A victory based on strong individual performances, a vibrant team ethic, and good clear leadership. Without the injured Tiger Woods, Azinger’s team were without the games, greatest ever player. But, they were better for it.
Tiger’s absence meant that Phil Mickleson, could step out of the shadows. Sure, he lost again in the singles, but his mentoring of Anthony Kim, brought the very best out of Mickleson.
Tiger has built a lot of his success, on the awe he has created around him. Players can be beaten by him, before they have even set foot, on the golf course. Without him in the team-room, the Americans, could relax and feel closer, a family, in-it together. Not that Tiger wouldn’t have wanted that vibe, when he was in the team. But, it isn’t that easy.
Players can’t shed sub-conscious comparisons, instantly. When the worlds greatest player is in your team, it must be hard not to feel slightly inferior. So, Tiger’s absence, would have been a liberation for players like Mickleson and Furyk.
It will be interesting to see what happens, two years from now, if Tiger is fit. For he will come into a potentially rejuvenated USA team. Players brimming with confidence. A team-spirit, forged on family values.
Perhaps the confidence the team have gained from Valhalla, will mean that the subtle fears of Tiger, will be a thing of the past. Perhaps, he can be embraced into the team ethos, and his brilliance channelled, for the good of the cause.
The United States have broken through. After so much pain, and humiliation, they won’t want to go back, to how things were. This Ryder Cup, may prove tough to win back for the Europeans, even on home soil.