The Ryder Cup always brings out the stranger, more volatile side of golf, which is always enjoyable to me. Case in point: Golf Digest interviewed players, coaches, caddies and other folks inside the sport about the golfers involved in this year's matches at Hazeltine. All were provided anonymity and gave incredible quotes.
The quotes on Sergio Garcia and Jordan Spieth were probably my two favorites. Let's look at Garcia first.
- "More than any of their guys, Sergio likes to mess with you. He likes to play little B.S. games, and he's comfortable winning playing those B.S. games if he can't beat you with his clubs. It's totally chickens---, and you have to give it right back to him or ignore him. And if you do give it back to him, it can affect him."
- "You can get in his head the easiest, but he still seems tough in the Ryder Cup. If you really wanted to try to rattle him, make him putt everything."
- "If you need to have the last point of the Ryder Cup, you'd want to see Sergio playing for their side."
- "Sergio isn't a choker, but has he ever made a putt in a major when it really counted at the end? That's why you feel like he can be beaten."
These are from Americans, and they're quite feisty. Garcia is 18-9-5 in his career in the Ryder Cup, which is pretty incredible. He's actually one of the great Ryder Cup golfers ever, although the point remains that we haven't seen him have to close out the last point yet. I hope he has to this year against Patrick Reed.
- "Best player in the game, but he's high maintenance. I think the way you beat him is to rattle [his caddie] Michael Greller, if that's even possible. Jordan wears him out."
- "Jordan knows this as well as anyone, but his iron play is fairly weak. He's squeezing it. He's squeezing it with the left hand coming down, and with that bent elbow it's leaving the clubface open."
That was from an American. An American!
- "It's hard to question someone so obviously good, but Jordan's ball-striking is nothing like as good as those around him at the top of the World Ranking -- nothing. There are people I know around the top of the game who call him 'the sclaffer; he can't hit it at all.' But he mis-hits straight, although he can lose it to the right, big-style. We've all seen that."
- "Yes, his putting is extraordinary, but when he stops holing 20 percent of his 20-footers -- which no one has ever done for a sustained period -- the question arises: Is he that good?"
That was the European take on Spieth. The ball-striking thing is fair. I looked at that the other day. He's been an average ball-striker this year, and it seems like that's the portion of your game that is easiest to control long-term.
Jordan Spieth's strokes gained stats continue to fascinate me. He's putting quite a bit better than last yr. pic.twitter.com/yczvaGjvyQ— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) September 13, 2016
Other stand-out quotes
- European on J.B. Holmes: "If there is a worse lag putter in the game, I've yet to see him. I certainly wouldn't want him as a foursomes partner."
- American on Phil Mickelson: "He's got every shot you can imagine, but the easy shots, the ones right in front of him, he tends to screw up. When he focuses his brain, he can hit any shot. He almost overthinks every shot. So in the Ryder Cup, focusing like he does, he's tough."
- European on Bubba Watson: "He's easily upset, too. The crowd can get to him. He doesn't like being touched. So he has so much vulnerability."
- American on Rory McIlroy: "The way to beat Rory is to tell him to show up three hours early with a good night's sleep."
I wouldn't go as far as to say he can't hit it all, but you know Spieth will be fired up at Hazeltine because you know he will read those quotes. Heck, I'm fired up for Hazeltine after reading those quotes. Spieth-Rory McIlroy and Reed-Garcia as the last two singles matches on Sunday would be some all-time drama. In the words of the immortal Bart Scott, "Can't wait!"
You should definitely go read all the other takes on the rest of the golfers as well. They are pretty amazing.