If golf’s TV producers haven’t figured it out yet, they will soon: the great amateur events are every bit as interesting, and likely more so, than what the golf played on the PGA Tour week in and week out. I’m not denigrating Tour golf, although at times in the season there is a numbing similarity to it all. I am here to praise amateur golf and its leading events. You know which ones I’m talking about: the USGA events for men, women and juniors; the Walker Cup, coming up next month; the Solheim Cup.
I know, I know: you would like to point out that the Solheim Cup is a women’s event featuring nothing but professional golfers. A technicality. When golf is played only for pride, for status, for bragging rights, it is intrinsically more interesting, and that’s what made the Solheim Cup, completed on Sunday in West Des Moines, so compelling.
The Americans beat the Europeans by nearly a touchdown — 16.5 to 11.5 — but the closing singles session was a 6-6 affair. If you were there or watching on TV or even if you saw the (lengthy) highlight reel, you could tell what happened. There were 24 players, 24 caddies and two Hall-of-Fame captains — Annika Sorenstam and Juli Inkster — abroad on the Des Moines Golf and Country Club course and all 50 of them were all in. Anna Nordqvist of Sweden won the first four holes of her match against Lexi Thompson.
But by the 18th tee Nordqvist was one down! She then won 18 to halve the match. All that for half a point! I was reminded of what Nick Price said to Ernie Els at a Presidents Cup years ago: “This point may not mean much to you, but it means a f— of a lot to me.”
His words motivated Easy appropriately. If you saw the quality of the golf played by Nordqvist and Thompson, they clearly did not need anything like Price’s pep talk to dig deep and find their best golf. As Thompson said, “I have to play all in.” She did. I’m guessing they all did.