I must admit that I rarely need any motivation to write for the Indy as covering golf is something I truly enjoy. But telling the story of last week’s Ryder Cup I find myself short of motivation; however, I have to say that I am excited to be putting my pen to paper in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.
Many in the media who cover this sport had predicted this would not only be a win for the U.S. but went so far as to say that the win would come easily, despite the fact the U.S. has not won a Ryder Cup on foreign soil since 1993. Supporting the U.S. victory theory was the fact that nine of the 12 Team USA members had tasted victory in a major championship compared to only five flying the European colors.
So, what went wrong?
Let’s begin with the captain’s picks. The European captain Thomas Bjorn was widely criticized for his four picks of Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, and Ian “born to play the Ryder Cup” Poulter. Jim Furyk went with Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Bryson DeChambeau, and Tony Finau. A lot of Americans were critical of Captain Bjorn’s picks and thought they were off the mark. However, in the final tally, the European picks earned nine points, while the lofty American picks earned a total of two points with the final Ryder Cup score being 17 1/2 to 10 1/2. And, to make matters worse, DeChambeau, Mickelson, and Tiger Woods, combined, failed to deliver a single point.
The game of golf is almost always played as an individual sport. Obviously, Tiger’s record when playing for himself is astounding with 80 wins, including 14 major championships. His Ryder Cup record is also mind-boggling with 13 wins, 21 losses, and three halved matches in seven Ryder Cup appearances. As far-fetched as this sounds, both Phil and Tiger will have played their entire careers without ever winning a Ryder Cup on foreign soil.
Team USA got off to a wonderful start by winning three matches to one in the first of five sessions. Unfortunately, somehow, Jim Furyk’s 12 talented players managed to lose all four of the remaining sessions. How could this happen? Well, the players on Team Europe had a combined 233 competitive rounds over Le Golf National course located just on the outskirts of Paris as they play the French Open there annually. Compare that to just eight competitive rounds for the all Americans put together. Only Justin Thomas made the effort to play in the French Open this year. Oh, by the way, Thomas won four matches while only losing one.
The Ryder Cup is all about team play but two members of the European team achieved some memorable accomplishments. First Italy’s Francisco Molinari became the first player in Ryder Cup history to win a major championship and then go on to win all five of his Ryder Cup matches. Sergio Garcia became the all-time points leader in the history of the Ryder Cup with a 25 1/2-point total. Six-time major winner Nick Faldo had previously held the record, at 25 points. After being picked by Captain Bjorn, Sergio made a bold promise he would deliver three points and three points he delivered.
I mentioned that I was writing this in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. I’m sure you have all seen photographs of the Eiffel Tower but believe me, they don’t do it justice. It seemed surreal that I was wrapping up the Ryder Cup on WLNG Radio while standing under this magnificent structure. I was half expecting to see a sign saying “Team USA not allowed” for fear that they may do something drastic.
Speaking of drastic, I think it’s time for Team USA to do just that. Over that past 12 Ryder Cup matches, the Europeans have won nine of them.