This past weekend, the U.S. competed against the Europeans in one of golf’s best events, the Ryder Cup. The Europeans won in a landslide, 17.5-10.5, at Le Golf National in Paris, France. The three-day event showcased some of the best players in the world in different forms of match play, including fourball, foursomes and singles. The weekend was filled with lots of emotion and national pride on both sides, as well as some outstanding golf.
The U.S. came into to Paris defending the trophy from two years ago at Hazeltine, Minnesota. But, the U.S. had not won a Ry- der Cup on European soil since 1993, and has mostly been dominated by Europe until recently. So why couldn’t the U.S. manage to win in Europe despite having six of the world’s top ten players?
Playing on home turf is a big advantage in the Ryder Cup, and especially in Europe. The European fans go absolutely insane when the event is played across the pond, decking out in all sorts of costumes and cheering loudly from the first tee to the last green. This energy gives the European players a huge advantage, who can feed off the crowd when making big putts. Players like Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter and Jon Rahm rode the emotional crowd all week- end. Meanwhile, the U.S. cracked under the pressure of the European crowd, and couldn’t gather momentum.
The U.S.’ performance was disappointing to say the least. The team started the match off hot, taking an early 3-1 lead in the Friday morning fourballs, but lost seven of the next eight matches, and lost all momentum going into Sunday. They were pretty heavily favored to retain the cup because of the firepower they have up and down the roster, but too many of the players just didn’t play well. It was not just one or two players that performed terribly either, it was over half the team. Tiger Woods, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Bryson Dechambeau and Phil Mickelson were some of the underperformers. These five players combined for a dreadful record of 2-16. In this group, you have the number one player in golf in Johnson, one of the hottest players in golf in Dechambeau, Tiger Woods, and two other top-25 players. There is really no excuse for their underperformance.
One reason for the U.S. struggles was captain Jim Furyk’s pairings. Furyk did not put Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth together, who were an electric duo two years ago at Ha- zeltine as well as four years ago at Gleneagles with a combined record of 4-1-2. He also put Dechambeau and Mickelson out on Friday, who were handily defeated, while he benched Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau, who really should have been out there.
The best decision for the U.S. pairings was the childhood friendship pairing of Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, who went 3-1 together, and also showed lots of emotion trying to spark something in their other teammates.
Their matches had a lot of big fist bumps and chest pounds directed at the European crowd to fire themselves up.
For the Europeans, the duo of Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari was fun to watch. Fleetwood is a Ryder Cup rookie who did not shy away from the spotlight. The two were unstoppable and the crowd loved them. The two are good friends and proved to be a strong duo. Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson were also solid, as they always are, and proved to be good captain’s picks by Thomas Bjørn.
The Europeans ended up clinching when Phil Mickelson put his ball in the water on 16, conceding his match to Francesco Molinari. The rest of the matches were played, and Alex Noren finished off the last match by sinking a long birdie putt to beat Dechambeau and start the celebrations for team Europe. The team celebrated with a lot of champagne while the crowd got in on the action with their loud chants and support for their home team.
Although it was not a successful Ryder Cup for the U.S., the team will look to take the Cup back in two years when it is back on home soil.
Contact Cam Cobey at [email protected]