For instance, we learned how you ride a galloping golf club, demonstrated by Backwoods Boo Weekley down the first fairway on Sunday. We learned if money ever gets too tight, the space program can skip the rocket fuel and simply put the next ship on a tee for J.B. Holmes.
We learned the Old World fans chant and sing better than our New World fans, who are basically still stuck in the '80s, repeating the “U-S-A” mantra of the Miracle On Ice. “We've got to learn some songs in this country,” said American Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger.
We learned that if you turn the Ryder Cup playing field into a regular PGA Tour stop, if you keep the rough short, the texture soft and the greens fast, it'll produce some entertaining stuff. The American side had 56 birdies and three eagles on Sunday, while the visitors registered 52 birdies and two eagles.
And remember, Tiger Woods wasn't even playing.
“I think it's fair to say golf was pretty exceptional this week,” European captain Nick Faldo said in defeat. “We've all experienced something really quite amazing, the level these guys can play now.”
In the weeks ahead, these events that took place at Valhalla, the lessons learned at the 37th Ryder Cup, will be analyzed, glamorized and — by the British press anyway — traumatized. But we don't need to wait weeks to establish the most profound thing we learned from the U.S. team's 16½-11½ victory.
In short, there is no substitution for inexperience.
What's that you say? The expression is the other way around, you say? Experience is an essential ingredient to winning championships. Not on this day, not in this Ryder Cup, not in Ryder Cups going forward.
Not only was youth served in Louisville, it was sensational. It carried the day, carried the tournament, carried the torn and tattered reputations of America's professionals back to a more prestigious place.
“I've played in a lot of Ryder Cups, experience, experience, experience, that's what we've always driven,” said Jim Furyk. “And we had a lot of newcomers here ... Right on down the line, you look at them, six new guys and a lot of young guys on this team.
“They brought a lot of enthusiasm. They fired up the crowd. They infused, I mean, just amazing energy into the crowd, and also into the team, and won probably the majority of the points on this team.”
The rise of the newbies created a red-number day for the guys in the red shirts, a red-letter day for the revved up Kentucky crowds. The Americans led after each of the five Ryder Cup sessions for the first time since 1979. The overall margin of victory was the biggest for the Americans since 1991. This was a new Ryder Cup day for the Red, White and Boo, a new face for a country that had lost three in a row and five of the last six.
“I think Phil (Mickelson) put it nicely earlier in the week,” said European Paul Casey, who managed to halve his Sunday match with one of the U.S. rookies, Hunter Mahan. “He said they have no scars. I think that was a good point. I think they just played very, very good golf, as well.”
The Americans came into the final session of 12 singles with a 9-7 lead, the first time it had the lead after team play since owning an identical two-point padding in 1995. Problem is, the U.S. lost that lead in '95 and lost the Cup.
And there were times on Sunday, when enough European blue was on the scoreboard to suggest the upchuck might happen again. Ah, but as the saying goes, there's no substitute for inexperience.
American rookie Anthony Kim, a high school freshman the last time the Americans won, set the tone for a different tune by waxing European hero Sergio Garcia, 5-and-4. Kim, 23, a two-time PGA Tour winner this season, put 10 scores of “3” on his card and played the 14 holes in 8-under.
Another rookie, Mahan, hit the shot of the tournament, a 35-foot birdie bomb on No. 16 that reminded everyone of Justin Leonard's magical 45-foot roll in 1999. Undefeated in the tournament, Mahan wound up tied in his tussle with Casey, shooting a 65 along the way.
Another rookie, 35-year old Weekley, emerged as the corn pone personality of the U.S. effort. He irritated the Europeans with his crowd-pumping antics. He entertained his teammates with stories and introduced them to country-fide terms like “compatibate.”
Need a definition? “We 'compatibated' well out there,” Kim said, “and we just tried to have a lot of fun.”
Clash of continents
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Riding in Kentucky
Sept. 21: Boo Weekley takes a ride on his golf club in celebration.
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