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Winners and Losers
October 02, 1995
The birds, when you think about it, don't care who wins the Ryder Cup. The squirrels keep right on gathering nuts. Even the grass around the clubhouse at Oak Hill, reduced to mud by thousands of spectators, will sprout again in the spring.
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October 02, 1995

Winners And Losers

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Individual Records

U.S.

W

L

T

Europe

W

L

T

Pavin

4

1

0

Gilford

3

1

0

Mickelson

3

0

0

Rocca

3

2

0

Roberts

3

1

0

Torrance

3

2

0

Love

3

2

0

Faldo

2

3

0

Couples

2

1

1

Langer

2

3

0

Lehman

2

1

0

Montgomerie

2

3

0

Maggert

2

2

0

Woosnam

1

1

1

Faxon

1

2

0

Clark

1

1

0

Jacobsen

1

2

0

James

1

1

0

Haas

1

3

0

Walton

1

1

0

Crenshaw

0

3

0

Ballesteros

1

2

0

Strange

0

3

0

Johansson

1

2

0

The birds, when you think about it, don't care who wins the Ryder Cup. The squirrels keep right on gathering nuts. Even the grass around the clubhouse at Oak Hill, reduced to mud by thousands of spectators, will sprout again in the spring.

Curtis Strange, on the other hand, will lie awake at night, replaying the last three holes of his singles match with Nick Faldo. Ireland's Philip Walton may redecorate his home around some massive photograph of himself putting for victory on the 18th hole. Bernard Gallacher will possibly give his scowl a rest.

The scoreboard records points attained, but for individual players, the results are more a question of stature gained or lost. So although Sunday's scoreboard showed a 14½ to 13½ European victory, there were winners and losers on both sides.

Strange is the most obvious loser. Oak Hill, the site of his 1989 U.S. Open victory, became Elm Street, with Curtis supplying the nightmare. One of Lanny Wadkins's two at-large picks, he was on the spot as the player who didn't belong, the guy who bumped a more deserving Lee Janzen. Given a chance to justify his selection, Strange scored no points and lost a pivotal singles match when he was one up on Faldo through 15 holes, needing only a halve to deliver a U.S. team victory and perhaps revive his own career. He bogeyed the last three holes instead. Worse, he lost the 18th even though Faldo had to chip out onto the fairway. "This is going to hurt for a long time," Strange said. "I didn't come through when I should have."

If Strange had to swallow his pride, the man who put him on the team had to eat humble pie. Wadkins thought he had micro-managed this Ryder Cup down to the last Stimp. He had the players he wanted on the course he wanted before the crowds he wanted, with a two-point lead going into Sunday's singles. Asked Wednesday night to make a prediction, Wadkins said, "I expect it to be over by nine o'clock Sunday morning." Now he goes in the record books as a losing captain—no disgrace at all, but galling to a cocky Dallas hustler.

And let's make room on the diminished-stature list for Ben Crenshaw and Jay Haas. Crenshaw was still the reigning Masters champion when he left Rochester, but his golf was less than masterly. Like Strange, he didn't win a point, primarily because his long game couldn't handle Oak Hill. As for Haas, the low-profile pro had the opportunity to seize some big-time attention. Wadkins expected him to play five matches, but Haas lost badly with Fred Couples on Friday, then again with Strange on Saturday. Sunday was the capper. In the clutch Jay Haas should beat Philip Walton. That he didn't suggests that Haas is too nice a guy for Ryder Cup roughhousing.

Dare we include Jeff Maggert with the losers? Second banana to his son in those cute commercials that ran all weekend, the Ryder Cup rookie played well on Friday and won two points. But he got upset Sunday by the laconic Mark James. By losing to a guy he should have buried, Maggert retains his rep as a poor closer.

Finally, the most-diminished player of the lot: Seve Ballesteros. The Wizard had it going for a few hours on Friday, frightening Dorothy and Toto—uh, Brad Faxon and Peter Jacobsen—with his hoary shtick. The next day, though, Phil Mickelson and Haas looked behind the curtain and saw that the Wizard was a fake. On Sunday, Ballesteros was so outclassed by Tom Lehman that his gamesmanship on the 12th green (more on that later) looked desperate. Ballesteros will make a great captain for Europe, probably at the 1997 Ryder Cup, in Spain, but right now his game isn't good enough to win a college tournament.

On to the winners—i.e., the participants on both sides who left Rochester feeling good about themselves.

Gallacher heads the list. On Sunday, Europe's captain couldn't resist a dig at the British press, saying, "They wrote me off as a three-time loser." For once, it wasn't paranoia—"they" really were out to get him. "They've given Gallacher a hammering," said James after the victory. "He hasn't deserved what he's been getting. You have wallies like Tony Jacklin sticking their nose in, and we didn't need it." In addition to his leadership Gallacher contributed an aphorism for the ages: "Amateurs think of the past, pros think of the future."

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