Friday, September 28, 2012

The Ryder Cup by the numbers

Short of being a golf aficionado, which yours truly is decidedly not, this whole Ryder Cup business can get confusing at times. Namely, figuring out who's who.

For example, put Luke Donald and Lee Westwood next to each other, and a lot of Americans don't know which is which. Some of us might think one of Donald's ancestors, Old Mac, had a farm that became legendary in childrens' folklore. E-I-E-I-O. Near as we can tell, Westwood was that place in a movie where Yul Brynner, playing the part of a homicidal droid gone berserk, starting shooting people. Or was that Westworld? Whatever, we can't tell the difference.

Conversely, the European golf fans have it a little easier sorting out the American players. As another example, put Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods side by side, and a glaring physical attribute jumps right out to easily tell them apart. Phil's the one who golfs left-handed, of course. But can they tell the difference between a Furyk and a Snedeker? Maybe. Furyk's got a unique golf swing, perhaps only surpassed by that of Charles Barkely. Snedeker? To the folks across the Pond, that might sound like the name of a new candy bar created by an athletic shoe company.

Even the captains of the two teams present their own enigmas. The Europeans have Jose Marie Olazabal directing their squad. Most Americans have no idea how to even pronounce his last name.

Think that's bad? Consider the American captain, Davis Love. As they say, love makes the world go round, and is a good thing, but in tennis, love means zero, zilch, naught -- a bad thing for a player.

Besides, in an annual international competition in pro tennis, they play for the DAVIS Cup. The very name Davis Love absolutely exudes tennis, so what the hell's he doing in golf, let alone captaining the best the Americans have to offer? That's just wrong on some level.

What's even worse is the Ryder Cup's spiffy little dress codes. Each team will have their matching designer outfits on any given day (no word yet as to what country they were actually manufactured in, but it's early). Having matching outfits is rather quaint, and all well and good -- if they were cheerleader teams competing in an international Battle of the Pom-Poms, but they're not. They're world class golfers, most of them multi-millionaires, and dressing them up like Boy Scouts at a jamboree somehow doesn't seem fitting. In fact, it just makes it that much harder to tell them apart.

So why not do it like most other sports? Put a number on the back, with their names stitched across their shoulder blades. That way we'd know who's who. It could be the best of many worlds.

Consider -- Golf might pick up a few more viewers. NASCAR fans might relate if an announcer was to say, "The #6 driver has narrowed the gap with the #12, and this may come down to who has enough gas at the end".

Even the names across their backs could be personalized at the player's discretion. Much like some soccer players, many would only require one name to be recognizable. Eldrick Woods would be Tiger, of course. Phil would be Lefty. Gerry Lester Watson? We know him as Bubba. Regardless of whatever nicknames the Europeans might come up with for themselves, the Americans would have little justification in mocking them. America once featured a pro football player with the name "He hate me" on his back. The guy's real name was Smart, but I doubt many thought of him that way. For over a decade, American football fans were all agog over Terrell Owens. He was commonly referred to as T.O.. Thankfully, it finally appears he's taken a permanent time out. How about Ochocinco, the artist formerly known as Chad Johnson, changing his name into the spanish words for his number 85 while playing -- in Cincinnati? What was up with that anyway?  Good grief, Americans park on a driveway and drive on a parkway. So before they start poking fun at others, perhaps they should take a long look in the mirror first.

But if the Ryder Cup teams just HAVE to wear those silly matching outfits, the least they could do is show some imagination. Forget Armani, St. Laurent, and all the rest of those uppety designer folks that don't know the difference between a wedge and a wedgie.

Put somebody in charge that knows the game and would make their attire attract even more viewers.

John Daly. He's pretty well proven himself over the years to be quite the fashion plate. Turn him loose to outfit the Ryder Cup players -- on both sides.

Now THAT would get interesting.

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