Rozner: Memories of Medinah fresh for Team USA

  • Phil Mickelson prepares to play a shot on the 3rd fairway during a practice round ahead of the Ryder Cup golf tournament at Gleneagles, Scotland, Wednesday.

    Phil Mickelson prepares to play a shot on the 3rd fairway during a practice round ahead of the Ryder Cup golf tournament at Gleneagles, Scotland, Wednesday. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 9/24/2014 7:43 AM

Here, it is considered one of the all-time meltdowns.

In Europe, it's known simply as the "Miracle at Medinah."

 

Perspective notwithstanding, what's indisputable is the 2012 Ryder Cup was one of the great sporting events of our time, and Europe will ride that high into this week's matches at Gleneagles, where the host team will go off as a nearly 2-1 favorite to win its eighth Ryder Cup in the last 10 tries.

"We sure haven't forgotten what happened in Chicago," said Keegan Bradley, a Tom Watson captain's pick. "I think about it all the time. I dream about it all the time. I wanted this chance so we could redeem ourselves."

Hard to believe the same U.S. team that had a 10-4 advantage late Saturday afternoon at Medinah will now need a minor miracle of its own to compete with a European team that seems poised for yet another victory.

Of course, it's not really the same Team USA that gave away a 10-6 lead to open Sunday singles in front of the best Ryder Cup crowd the event has ever known.

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There will be no Tiger Woods or Jason Dufner, both hurt and out for a while. Dustin Johnson was also -- supposedly -- injured when he was suspended for a positive cocaine test. Steve Stricker and Brandt Snedeker did not qualify.

In 2012, Dufner went 3-1-0 and Johnson 3-0-0, but they will be watching on TV, or perhaps not at all.

Among the five players on this year's squad who didn't participate two years ago, Hunter Mahan has the most experience with a grand total of two Ryder Cup appearances and a 3-2-3 record.

It was four years ago at Celtic Manor that the U.S. rallied from a huge deficit on a rare Monday singles day to force Europe down to the final match. That's when Mahan lost to Graeme McDowell after Mahan chunked a chip and missed a par putt on 17, allowing Europe to celebrate the Cup on home soil again.

Rickie Fowler -- who had a terrific 2014 -- has played in the Ryder Cup once, also in Wales, and finished 0-1-2. The remaining three players -- Patrick Reed, Jimmy Walker and Jordan Spieth -- are rookies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Spieth was 2-2 at the Presidents Cup a year ago at Muirfield, but Walker and Reed have no such Tour-level experience. Reed won twice early this season, but after his victory in March, he missed six of the next 11 cuts, and his finishes in the majors were as follows: cut, 35th, cut, 58th.

During the FedEx Cup playoffs, Reed finished ninth, 74th, 53rd and then 19th out of 29 at the Tour Championship. At the Deutsche Bank a few weeks ago, Reed was in it the first two days before blowing up for an 82 in round three and missing the 54-hole cut.

Needless to say, he's not exactly in form.

The same can be said of Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Zach Johnson and Spieth, while the USA's best player of late has been 44-year-old Jim Furyk, who hasn't won a tournament since 2010 and is best known for being in it all the time and never closing it out.

Americans in general have a tough time making putts on Sunday at the Ryder Cup, and Furyk epitomizes that misery, not that Chicagoans need any reminder of his inability to make a 6-footer when it matters most.

If there's good news for Team USA, it's how bad the Europeans have been this year.

Only Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose have extensive experience in Ryder Cup play and major tournaments and go into the week playing at the top of their games, so the Europeans can't exactly claim to be on a roll.

Europe also has three rookies and the course is long and open like Medinah, which suits the Americans just fine, so on paper this hardly looks like a blowout for the Europeans, even though the combined Ryder Cup records favor the Europeans to the tune of 69-42-18 vs. 43-52-18.

The difference is the Euros live for the Ryder Cup and have a long history of elevating their games for this event, while the Americans for the last couple decades have not been able to hide their lack of conviction when it comes to team matches.

And Sunday singles from Medinah is never far from the American minds. To some it's a nightmare, for others it's motivation.

"This trip is a redemption trip," Watson said. "For those players that were on that team in Chicago, it's time to make amends."

That's the American posture heading into this Ryder Cup in Europe, where the U.S. hasn't won since 1993. But it's worth noting that the captain of that team at The Belfry was none other than Tom Watson.

Can they channel their anger? Is revenge reason enough? Is there a miracle in the offing?

It might take something just less than that to get it done again.

brozner@dailyherald.com

• Hear Barry Rozner on WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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