By Jim Ward President of Premier Golf
fire begins to flicker
I have to admit, other than 2001, the 2004 Ryder Cup at
Oakland Hills CC in suburban Detroit was my least favorite. We had just come off
the largest point deficit (15.5–12.5) at the Belfry in 2002. I don’t know
what it was, but the American chemistry wasn’t good in 2004. The players acted
like they wanted to be somewhere else. We heard they had been instructed to be
“all business” during the practice rounds and avoid lots of interaction with
the public and media. By contrast, the smiling European players were friendly
and convivial and absolutely won over the American crowds. I remember them
putting children on their shoulders, posing for pictures and signing endless
|Tiger and Phil|
It didn’t help American morale when Captain Hal Sutton
paired Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods first off in the Friday pairings. I
remember the two of them coming down the first fairway looking uneasy like they
were on the way to a funeral not a golf match. Talk about oil and water. This
can’t be good, I thought. Unfortunately, I was right. Europe crushed us and won
that Ryder Cup by its largest margin in history 18.5-9.5.
|European Team |
One of my favorite memories of that Ryder Cup was Saturday
night. We rented out a special area in beautiful Comerica Park, the stunning,
open-air ballpark in downtown Detroit where the Detroit Tigers play baseball.
We had hundreds of people in the “Tiger Den” which overlooks the field. The
evening festivities included tours of the clubhouse and dugout, a whiskey
tasting, three different bands, Irish dancers and much more. It was great fun.
Everyone seemed to enjoy the festivities and it helped us forget momentarily
about the U.S. team’s poor performance.