Whoa! Red Pants on Sunday?

Is it wise to wear red pants for the final round of a golf competition? Maybe yes and maybe no. It worked for Billy Horschel yesterday, who sprinted to victory at the BMW Championship, but traditionally most winners wear white. Here’s a quick review of golfers wearing red pants, which, by the way, is the same color of pants to be worn by the 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup team.

Billy Horschel made a bold statement yesterday by wearing red pants to win the BMW Championship. The context is that most winners wear white pants on Sunday. But after blowing a chance to win the Deutsche Championship on the final hole two Sundays ago, it made sense that he either had to live a life of cowering and pleading with the golf gods to not let his nerves nail the door to glory shut forever or stand up and take matters in his own hands — doing something striking and courageous to counter his fire-breathing demons with his own fire.

Well done, Billy. The gallery applauded you for getting away with wearing red pants on Sunday in order to promptly take care of your demons with the two-stroke victory over Bubba Watson. The applause was also for taking care of business as you ran to the bathroom near the 18th fairway and before the long awards ceremony and photo session began. Well-judged!

It would be easy to let the red-pants-on-Sunday thing go as a curious anomaly had it not been for the red-alert decision last week to put red pants on the U.S. Ryder Cup team — on Sunday!

Keep in mind that red is the color of fire and blood, and it is associated with energy, war, danger, strength, power, determination as well as passion, desire, and love. All good. It’s an emotionally intense color that increases respiration rate and raises blood pressure, which may not be good at Gleneagles under Ryder Cup pressure.

Also, keep in mind that clowns wear red pants, but golfers seldom do. Jesper Parnevik pulls it off once in a while, but as good of a golfer as he is, he’s also known as a goofball who came by his humor honestly; his dad was a comedian.

Comedians know that it helps to look the part when you want to make people laugh and forget their troubles. Bill Murray wants to distract people from his troubled golf game when he plays in pro-ams, so he wears red.

And George Lopez knows that he can turn some heads and draw some laughs on the golf course just by making a stylish statement accentuated by red pants.

“Clowns wear red pants.”

Red pants for the U.S. Ryder Cup team is not without precedent, but the precedent appears to be not good, at least at first blush. Before 1985, the Ryder Cup had been played 25 times, with the Great Britain/Ireland and Europe teams winning only three times. Europe hadn't won a Ryder Cup since 1957.

1985 — a Ryder Cup Red-Flag Year

In 1979, a rule change made golfers from across Europe eligible to play. That change was to make the matches more competitive, and it worked big time. In 1985, Team Europe trounced the U.S. team 16-1/2 to 11-1/2 in England, and did it again two years later for its first win on U.S. soil. As it turns out, 1985 was a turning point in Ryder Cup history; the Europeans have won nine competitions since, while the U.S. team has won three times. There was a tie in 1989.

Oh, the pants color for the 1985 U.S. team picture? Red.

This may be a bad omen, a big heads-up that red is dead for the 2014 U.S. team just as it was for the 1985 team. Probably yes because the Yanks are a big underdog, or maybe no. The red pants may mean that 2014 is a turning-point year just as 1985 was. That the U.S. team, just like Horschel did yesterday, is doing something striking and courageous, countering its fire-breathing, three-decades-old Ryder Cup demons with his own fire.

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