Ryder Cup Countdown — the All-Name Team, U.S. Edition
We’re less than two weeks away from the 2018 Ryder Cup, and I for one am just a little bit excited. With the news coming out today that the PGA Tour has found a way to completely botch their season’s Super Bowl…
… I couldn’t care less about the Tour Championship this weekend, and am anticipating actively disliking the event for the foreseeable future.
By contrast, the Ryder Cup is golf done (mostly) right. Match play is a vastly more exciting format than stroke; team competitions mean the players are beholden to someone other than themselves (and their sponsors) to perform; and foursomes (AKA alternate shot) is just a really fun thing to watch. Not to mention, head to head singles matches produce moments like this:
As I’ve come down with this bout of Ryder Cup fever, I figured I’d keep busy by writing about it. And for no reason other than I love digging through Wikipedia pages of old Ryder Cup teams, I’m starting with
THE RYDER CUP ALL-NAME TEAM
Every sport produces great names, but some of these are just absolute beauties. Without further ado, here is the All-Name Team for the good ol’ U.S. of A., along with some notes and honorable mentions.
Tiger Woods — 1997, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2010, 2012, 2018
In all the millions of words spoken and written about Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods, one of the two or three greatest golfers of all time, there is not nearly enough discussion about this person’s name. Imagine a universe where Tiger doesn’t exist, and someone pitches a movie based around an all-time great golfer whose life devolves into a series of scandals and tabloid headlines, then claws his way back after almost a decade out of the spotlight to contend in majors again. It’s a terrific story, but the editors wouldn’t possibly allow a name as preposterous as TIGER WOODS to stay in the script. It’s too outrageous. We’ve become inured to the name’s silliness over the years, but it truly is stranger than fiction.
Fuzzy Zoeller — 1979, 1983, 1985
Frank Urban “Fuzzy” Zoeller Jr. Winner of the 1979 Masters and 1984 U.S. Open, three-time Ryder Cupper, well-known prankster, sometimes-taken-out-of-context jokester, and one of the all-time “people who look like their name” guys. The only person who looks more like they should be named Fuzzy Zoeller is Craig Stadler.
Bryson DeChambeau — 2018
The definition of a millennial. Kid has turned his whole life into a scrappy startup, using #data, #analytics, #TrackMan, and other #buzzwords to hack the golf swing. And the results have been pretty astounding, as he’s racked up four PGA Tour wins by age 25. It doesn’t get much more “I founded a company at 19 and sold it to Google at 22 for $82 million” than being named Bryson DeChambeau.
Chi-Chi Rodriguez — 1973
Juan Antonio “Chi-Chi” Rodriguez is the first Puerto Rican to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and he represented his country in the 1973 Ryder Cup. While the Euro team is a melting pot of names from across the continent, the U.S. squad is low on diversity. While a name like Juan Rodriguez wouldn’t crack the starting lineup, Chi-Chi, with his bullfighting birdie dance and ever-present wide-brim hat, deserves the spot.
Miller Barber — 1969, 1971
Nothing much to say about Miller Barber other than his name is two very respected and necessary professions.
Dow Finsterwald — 1957, 1959, 1961, 1963
Neither of these names sound like anything I’ve ever heard someone called before. At a guess, “Dow” would be short for… Dowd? Like, Webb Simpson’s wife? (Looking it up…) And it’s not short for anything. More importantly, he’s a senior, meaning that his son walked around with the name Dow Henry Finsterwald Jr., and didn’t even have a major and 11 PGA Tour wins to throw in someone’s face when they teased him about it. Rough.
Wiffy Cox — 1931
Back in the sepia-toned days of the Cup, when greens were a slightly lighter shade of beige than the rest of the course, the above man competed in the 1931 Ryder Cup under the name Wiffy Cox. Short for Wilfred, Wiffy is inarguably the worst golf nickname in recorded history, though ol’ Wiff up there looks like he’s spoiling for you to needle him about it so he can dump an old fashioned down your plus-fours while you’re not lookin’.
Paul Runyan — 1933, 1935
Another golfer from the shirt-and-tie era, Paul Runyan’s got too American of a name not to include here. If only Callaway could have made him a blue driver named Babe the Big Blue Bertha. Or something.
Bubba Watson — 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016
A self-taught golfer from rural Florida with a name that sounds like it belongs to one of Ricky Bobby’s fictional nemeses: Gerry Lester “Bubba” Watson Jr. Doesn’t get more American than that. Unless of course, you count…
Boo Weekley — 2008
You can’t even see his face, and it doesn’t matter. Boo Weekley turning his driver into a bull and ridin’ that bronc down the first fairway in Sunday singles — while neither his caddie, opponent, nor opponent’s caddie noticed! — is one of the great Ryder Cup moments of all time. The two cherries on this particularly goofy sundae: Boo won his match, and his freakin’ name is Thomas Brent “Boo” Weekley. That whole photo might scream ‘Merica more than anything I’ve ever seen.
Chip Beck — 1989, 1991, 1993
Chip Beck looks, sounds, and likely plays golf like the president of your brother-in-law’s college fraternity who went on to inherit his dad’s real estate company.
Cary Middlecoff — 1953, 1955, 1959
Rounding out the Americans is Cary Middlecoff, real first name Emmett, real profession dentist, sometimes called “Doc Cary Middlecoff.” A person who I know was really good at golf but who only makes me think of the Dan Jenkins novel Dead Solid Perfect, which had a character who would say everyone’s name backwards. The pronunciation “Code-E-Rac Fockledim” always stuck with me for some reason.
Hale Irwin, Mark Calcavecchia — I’ve never heard of another Hale or another Calcavecchia
John Golden, Don January, Johnny Revolta — All sound like male porn stars
Ky Laffoon, Brandt Snedeker — Both sound like rejected cartoon cats