He's back! One of golf's biggest icons has returned. No, not him. I'm speaking of my dear friend, Ryder Cup.
After a European team victory at Celtic Manor in Wales in the last Ryder Cup matches, my old friend has spent the past two years traveling Europe. This weekend he is back here in the United States, at Medinah Country Club outside Chicago for the 2012 Ryder Cup matches.
I caught RC just before his scheduled daily massage and shining. After him spending so much time across the pond, we had a lot to talk about.
As I sat down with him, the grin plastered on his face was hard to ignore. He loves the spotlight that these matches put on the game and the fellowship it promotes. He reminded me that he loves these matches, but longs for the days when sportsmanship and camaraderie were the rule of the day.
"Truthfully, I'm tired of the 'war on the shore' talk we've been hearing for weeks now," he said. "The way everyone was treated that year saddened me. And now they plan to replay it all week before the matches begin. I guess Golf Channel wants to provide the Euros with some bulletin board material."
I asked him what he thought of the captains' picks and of Davis Love III, our U.S. captain, passing on a couple of players.
"I'd do what the king did," he said with a twinkle in his eye. "Arnie told everyone 'If you want to make the team, finish in the top-12.' That's how I'd do it. Either that or let the captain pick all 12 players. Now that could be interesting.
"I can also understand a few players feeling left out," he added. "Poor Hunter Mahan, the man won the match play this year! And Bo van Pelt was playing so well. I'm a bit miffed."
Did the victory in Wales by the European team surprise you at all? I mean the European team had some big players, but the U.S. team had that emotional win two years before.
"I think being the underdog was great for the lads," said RC. "They didn't have too much pressure and I truly think they caught the U.S. lads at just the right time."
You mean with Mickelson, Mahan, Watson and Furyk, the top-four U.S. players, combining to win just three points the entire weekend? They certainly didn't help Captain Pavin.
"They played well enough; they just ran into a few guys who wanted to show the world they can play great golf. Ricky Fowler was fun to watch. That reminds me, do they sell those fancy orange outfits at the mall? I think I'd look quite spiffy in that. "I think Pavin did fine. It was his wife who messed things up," RC continued, shaking his head. "She insisted on having their rain suits embroidered. Doesn't she know that thousands of needles punching holes in a rain suit simply made them screen doors?"
Are you hoping to spend the next couple of years back here in the states?
"Honestly? I am a bit tired of sitting over there in Europe. I love it in Palm Beach. The women shave their legs before putting on a bikini, the Cuban food is fantastic and there is so much great golf right in the area. I can also play golf without two sweaters, a jacket and a bonnet. I will miss the Guinness, though."
What do you have planned for the week before the matches begin?
"My good friend Wannamaker (the PGA Championship trophy) and I have a lot of catching up. He's throwing a big party for all the big-name trophies. Do you have any idea how much of the hard stuff that clubhouse from the Masters can put away? We may even invite the new kid, FedEx Cup. Maybe with enough liquor in him, he'll explain how that silly scoring system works.
"I'm also going to work on my tan and find a few cigars. Unless I can find Michael Jordan, I may be on my own in that regard."
RC, thank you so much for your time. We'll have to tee it up again some day soon.
"Thank you, it was my pleasure. And to all of your readers, I must say thank you for caring so deeply about our great game and the Ryder Cup. Remember to keep the spirit of the game in your hearts and a pint in your pocket."
James Stammer has been an avid golfer and golf enthusiast for nearly 40 years. He hosts the Thursday night golf show on WSTU 1450-AM. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.