Teamwork, not team spirit, was a problem, Toms says
The U.S. Ryder Cup players bonded well before and during the Ryder Cup, said veteran David Toms. But at times during the competition, he observed, the players in the individual pairings didn't pick each other up very well.
September 25, 2006
STRAFFAN, Ireland (PA) -- A lack of teamwork was one of the reasons the United States failed to end Europe's recent dominance of the Ryder Cup, according to David Toms.
All week every American player spoke about having "fun" as Captain Tom Lehman tried all manner of exercises -- such as getting players to stand up and sing in front of their teammates -- to engender a spirit similar to that of their opponents.
It patently did not work. Tiger Woods struggled with his game all week but still came out as the top U.S. points-scorer with three.
Biggest disappointment was world No. 2 Phil Mickelson, who recorded just half a point from five matches, while another big name Chris DiMarco only managed the same. At least Chris DiMarco looked like he wanted to compete, even aggressively pumping his fist when he won the 17th in his two-hole defeat to Lee Westwood despite the cup having been won by Europe several minutes earlier.
"I felt like a lot of our guys played pretty good golf individually this week," said Toms, who himself had only half a point to show from four matches. "As a team we just didn't seem to play great at times. We just didn't pick each other up when we needed to like they did.
"I felt like we practiced well. We practiced well before we came over here," he added. "We had the best players playing, we changed the [qualifying] system a bit to have the best players who were playing the best. The three teams I have been on, as a team we have had some good performances but we haven't played well."
Toms also called for a rethink on how America plans for Ryder Cups -- starting with the selection of courses.
Europe won its third successive Ryder Cup on a course that is the annual venue for the European Open. By contrast, the 2008 host club is Valhalla, which is not a regular PGA Tour venue but is on the major rotation, having held the 1996 and 2000 PGA Championships.
"They [the Europeans] play here all the time. They play The Belfry all the time," said the world No. 16. "We seem to host it [the Ryder Cup] at major championship venues we only go to once every eight years."
Toms' also argued that the heavy rain that made the K Club course play its full 7,335 yards worked against the Americans. What made the difference in the boggy conditions, many Europeans would argue, was the passion, the adrenaline.
Their prime example was Darren Clarke, whose average drive is 290 yards. Clarke, of course, lost his wife to cancer six weeks ago, and when he stood on the first tee in Friday's fourball with Lee Westwood it was debatable whether he could even see the ball never mind hit it after the emotional welcome he received.
But when he stood over his tee shot, driver in hand, he was so pumped up he smashed it well over 300 yards.
Still, Toms felt the conditions favored the Europeans.
"It was a long golf course for a lot of our players after it got wet," said the 39-year-old from Louisiana, playing in his third Ryder Cup. "If it would have been dry -- although the chances were it wasn't going to be over here -- I think it might have been different for us."
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