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Ryder Cup 2012

October 1, 2012 Leave a comment

The first post on Ron’s View, just over four years ago, had the 2008 Ryder Cup as its subject. I wrote the post in the evening after the three-day competition ended. With this year’s edition ending yesterday, it seems only appropriate that I return to the subject.

The Ryder Cup competition takes place every two years, between a US team of 12 golfers and a European team of 12. You can read the history in many places. The short version: competition starts in 1927, matching US and British players. Along the way, Northern Irish and Irish golfers are added. After World War II, the US always wins. People lose interest. In 1979, the GB&I team is expanded to include continental Europe. Suddenly, the competition heats up. Europe begins to win, thanks to a new generation of golfers who are at the same time winning their share of the four annual major tournaments. Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Ian Woosnam, José María Olazábal, Colin Montgomerie (well, he never won a major, but he came close, and was a strong Ryder Cup player). The European team typically doesn’t have the depth of the US team, but they keep finding ways to win. Interest expands. TV coverage increases. Fanatical fans show up. Rowdiness ensues. It becomes a major international sporting event, attracting the interest even of people who otherwise pay no attention to golf. It’s a happening. People dress like morons and hoot and holler. Along the way, some extraordinary golf is played.

Why is it so exciting? I’d say the format. Not that I’m striking out into new territory with that suggestion. But it’s the correct explanation.

First of all, the scoring is match play. In any given match, you count holes won, not strokes played. That makes each hole a mini-match. Second, on Friday and Saturday, the players compete in teams, two against two, four matches each morning and four each afternoon. One daily session consists of foursomes competition, surely the coolest golf format in existence. Each pair alternates playing a ball on each hole. If you’re my partner, you tee off on hole 1 and we alternate until one of us gets the ball in the cup. On the next hole, I tee off. Then you, then me, etc. The other daily session features fourball — each of the four players plays his own ball and the best one of the four, if there is a best one, wins the hole. This opens the door to one player taking risks while another plays it safe, introducing additional opportunities for strategy.

There’s nothing like Ryder Cup Sunday. The twelve players on each side get matched up and go out in singles matches, one against one. Twelve simultaneous matches are played, each having its own drama of as many as eighteen mini-matches. (I should explain that in match play, if let’s say you arrive at the 18th hole having won 6 holes while your opponent has won 4, with 7 holes drawn or “halved” 7 holes, then you are 2 up. There’s no point playing the 18th. The match is over and you have won, 2 and 1, which is to say you are 2 up with 1 hole to go. In the most extreme case, if you win the first 10 holes, your opponent can’t catch up and the match ends there, with you having one 10 and 8.)

The excitement of the last day is intensified because the overall team score can shift back and forth in the blink of an eye. One team may have 6 players ahead, another 4 ahead, with 2 even, but the margins may be just 1 or 2 holes one way or the other in each match, so that in half an hour perhaps the status of half those matches can flip. A missed put here, a dramatic chip in there, and the overall complexion changes instantly. Which is pretty much what happened yesterday.

Just one example. In the match between Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose, Mickelson was up 1 on the 16th hole and poised to go up 2 unless Rose could sink a hard putt, which he did to halve the hole and keep himself just 1 back. On 17, Mickelson thought he sank a devilishly difficult chip from off the green, which would probably win the hole and match, but it didn’t go in. Rose then sank his 40 foot putt to win the hole instead and draw even. The ever gracious Mickelson smiled at Rose and applauded. Then, on 18, Rose made another great putt for birdie to win the hole and, in fact, the match. It was that kind of day for Europe, which came from way back to win the cup.

An extraordinary day of golf. But not one I can celebrate openly, unless I’m looking to move. Gail isn’t as charmed by the greatness of the moment. She’s in mourning mode. I must tread carefully.

For the closing word, I turn to Taiwan’s Next Media Animation, or nma.tv, which in its inimitable way put together a video that captures the excitement of Ryder Cup 2012. I’ve embedded the video up top. (Hat tip: Geoff Shackelford. I have written previously about NMA’s work here.)

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Categories: Animation, Golf

London Olympics Videos

August 11, 2012 2 comments

The Olympics end tomorrow. Whenever possible over the last week, I’ve spent lunchtime watching the live internet feed of the track and field finals. With that done on any given day, I didn’t have much reason to tune to the NBC primetime production. I had no stomach for their endless teases and dragging out of events.

One unintended consequence of my viewing pattern has been that I’ve hardly seen any Olympic events other than track lately. What I know about them comes mostly from reading. Fortunately, some of the gaps in my viewing have been filled by excellent videos at the websites of The Guardian and The Wall Street Journal. If you have gaps too, I highly recommend their work.

The full list of Guardian videos can be found here. I was particularly pleased to see their coverage of the weightlifting final for the highest weight class. And, having missed so much of the rowing during week one, I was able to catch up on the men’s coxless four final, a thrilling matchup of Great Britain and Australia (above). Another highlight in their series is the men’s track 100 meter race:

The WSJ has their own compelling series of Homemade Highlights, including the women’s beach volleyball final:

One can never watch the transcendent Usain Bolt too often. Here is the WSJ’s coverage of his 200 meter victory.

Finally, moving outside the arenas, I can’t resist including the video from opening day that made Londoner Rachel Onasanwo an unexpected Olympics star.

Categories: Animation, Sports, Video

Rodeo Hoedown

June 27, 2009 Leave a comment

Here’s a music video from Eleanor Stewart. (Hat tip: Sullivan.) She explains:

I created a music video for the Classical music work ‘Hoedown’ from the Rodeo Suite by Aaron Copland. It is a stop motion animation in which various characters, inspired by Cowboy and Western films, come to life from the musical score. It was made for my final year degree in Visual Communication at the Glasgow School of Art.

I used to play Rodeo for Joel when he was an infant. And Appalachian Spring. And tell him stories inspired by the music. I never thought to make a stop motion animation.

Categories: Animation, Music, Video