The 2018 Ryder Cup was ripped out of the hands of America’s individual golf stars and embraced by a true team of golfers from Europe Sunday.
The American golf 12-man contingent included eleven of the top 17 golfers in the world coming in this week along with the highest individual rankings in the event’s history. Though Europe featured such talented players such as Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, and the ever-youthful Sergio Garcia, much of the squad had not been playing their best golf coming into this event.
The final tally of this fascinating biennial golf event (held in Paris this year) was Europe 17.5, USA 10.5.
It wasn’t as close as the score indicates. A better title might have been, “A Ryder Cup Butt Kicking in Paris”.
The Euros won Friday’s Day One team events 5-3.
The Euros won Saturday’s Day Two team events 5-3. (Notice a pattern yet?)
The Euros won Sunday’s Day Three individual matches by a 7.5 to 4.5 count.
Game, set, match!
The Americans were outcoached, too, as Euro leader Thomas Bjorn’s captains’ picks clobbered Jim Furyk’s picks. Bjorn’s four picks (Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, and Henrik Stenson) figured in 9.5 Euro points, while Jim Furyk’s picks (Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, and Tony Finau) contributed just 2 points for the USA (thanks to Finau’s 2-1 record).
That 7.5 points edge was exactly the final margin of victory for the European team.
Tiger Woods (who notched his 80th career victory last weekend in Atlanta) went 0-4, while Phil (43 career wins) Mickelson went 0-2. Despite their greatness in individual tournaments, these two World Golf Hall-of-Famers are, sadly, America’s biggest Ryder Cup “Hall-of-Shamers”.
Mickelson now has racked-up 25.5 Ryder Cups losses (with 20.5 points on the “W” side) for a 46.7% winning percentage. Tiger Woods’ losing record now stands at 22.5 losses with only 14.5 wins. (39% wins).
Did you want to guess who has the third most losses (22) for the USA in Ryder Cup history?
Yep. It is Cap’n Jim Furyk (22 losses vs. 12 wins for about a 37% winning percentage).
While most golf fans enjoy watching Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, why would the US team purposefully choose The Dynamic Duo with such a dismal history in Ryder Cup team competition?
The best answer I can come up with is NBC. With the Ryder Cup in Paris and live matches being aired from 1AM until 11AM Central time every day, the television ratings in America (as bad as they may have been) could have been at least 50% lower without the star power of one or both of golf’s current-day greats.
If you think NBC would not have cared if Captain Jim Furyk had chosen Kevin Kisner and Billy Horschel (both very accurate off the tee) instead of Woods and Mickelson, I have some proverbial swamp land in Louisiana we need to discuss soon.
Let’s give the proper credit the European golfers and their coach for this impressive win. As allowed for the host team, Coach Thomas Bjorn said on television that he asked the host club in Paris to grow its rough to extreme lengths leading up to the event in order to cause trouble for wayward tee shots from the American long-bombers this week.
The rough was every bit as deep as that found at a typical US Open. While Europe’s scintillating tandem of Italy’s Francesco Molinari (5-0 this week) and Great Britain’s Tommy Fleetwood (4-1) was striping tee shots into the fairway, the Americans paired against them were oft-found in ankle deep rough trying to hack their ball toward the green.
Importantly, the European players speak often about their true affection for playing in the Ryder Cup for their home country and for one another. Most of them earned their way onto the PGA tour via years on the weekly grind of the European tour – where the tournament purses are significantly smaller and most players stay in the same hotel.
The Americans can talk “team”, but most of them travel independently, stay in separate housing, and rarely fraternize. The Europeans cherish the opportunity to beat this Tiger Woods’ era of financially pampered and quite independent American golfers.
To win in the team competitions in Ryder Cup golf, you must strive to hit fairways and greens on every hole to give your partner a chance.
For some inexplicable reason, the American Ryder Cup team and its Captain were unable to embrace that one simple formula again this year.
While jubilantly holding the 2018 Ryder Cup trophy, the European victors’ motto appeared to have been “fairways and grins”.