Even if you are not a golf fan, you likely heard that the United States took a 10-6 lead into the final day of the Ryder Cup in Chicago and came away a loser. All the team needed to do was win or tie enough of the 12 individual matches to get 4 1/2 points. They couldn’t pull it off. On Sunday, you could see the collapse coming as the Europeans started strong and put pressure on the US golfers in the last matches.

To get the idea of how bad this was, you might read:  U.S. coughs up Ryder Cup in biggest choke ever or Epic Ryder Cup collapse on home turf inexcusable. Those were just two of the first articles I found on Google.

Watch this for ESPN analysis:


The epic collapse demonstrates that sometimes it is harder to win when you should win than it is when you are the underdog and should lose. I have seen it many times in sports and I have seen it in trials. Those who are supposed to win, sometimes play not to lose, while those who are supposed to lose, play with reckless abandon to win.  It is easier for them, because after all, they are supposed to lose.

I have been asked if I ever will retire and the answer I always give is: “Nancy won’t let me.” Instead of retiring, I might write novels. I could easily write one about the experienced, big firm lawyers who battle the young upstart, or underdog lawyer in a trial. The experienced big firm lawyers try the case not to lose it, while the young or underdog lawyer tries the case with reckless abandon and no fear that he or she might lose.

There is only one problem with my writing this story: It is probably the most written lawyer story in books and  movies. Take a look at this list of Best Lawyer Flicks. How many are about the underdog lawyer winning? Who can forget Paul Newman’s character Frank Galvin in The Verdict.

So, I guess I will not likely ever write the great American novel about the underdog lawyer. More importantly, I think the Ryder Cup collapse reminds lawyers to take nothing for granted, especially when you think you have a strong case or position and a weak opponent. As we witnessed late Saturday afternoon and Sunday, it is pretty amazing what athletes (and I would suggest lawyers) can do when they have nothing to lose. It is also amazing how often athletes (and I would suggest lawyers) choke when their opponent is catching them.