“It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you place the blame.” -- Irish poet Oscar Wilde
Yes, I know. Last week, I went with the vast majority of bookmakers and writers in predicting that Side USA would defeat the Europeans at Le Golf National near Paris. I did so even though the Americans had not won on foreign soil since 1993 when Capt. Tom Watson’s team defeated Europe 15-13 at The Belfry.
To quote Argentinian golfer Roberto De Vicenzo, “What a stupid I am.” (At the 1968 Masters, De Vicenzo signed an incorrect scorecard that had him getting a par and not a birdie on the 17th hole. Even though his playing partner, Tommy Aaron, is the one who made the mistake, the higher score stood because he signed the card. If not for that mistake, he would have been in a playoff with Bob Goalby.)
My prediction was strictly based on what I thought was superior individual talent. I should have known better. For whatever reason, the Europeans have “it” – esprit de corps. That and the fact that Le Golf National had severe rough, not the wimpy, I-can-still-get-on-the-green rough you find on the PGA tour. This was a course that thumbed its nose at ego-driven bombers. Bottom line, the Europeans understood the importance of finding the fairway.
Since Sunday’s humbling 17 ½ - 10 ½ loss to the Europeans, the media has completely dissected the match. Below you will find the statistics, quotes and observations that I either found interesting, depressing or left me scratching my head:
Sergio Garcia, who was a captain’s pick, went 3-1 over the weekend, including a singles victory over Rickie Fowler. He now has the record for most all-time Ryder Cup points with 25½, which eclipses the previous mark of 25 held by Nick Faldo.
“Foursomes (alternate shot) is a format the U.S. has struggled with historically, but never quite like they did on Friday. The 4-0 beatdown by Europe marked the first clean sweep of the U.S. in the format ever. Yep, ever.” – Source Yahoo Sports
“With an 4 & 2 victory over Phil Mickelson during Sunday's singles matches, Italian Francesco Molinari became the first player ever to win a major championship and go 5-0 at the Ryder Cup in the same year. Molinari, an excellent ball-striker and putter, went 4-0 with Tommy Fleetwood as his partner and then capped off the week with a win over Mickelson.” – Source Sporting News
“(Jordan) Spieth fell a whopping 5 & 4 to Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen, a Ryder Cup rookie who had not played since Friday morning fourballs. Spieth lost six of the first nine holes in the match, falling to 0-6 lifetime in Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup singles matches.” -- Source Sporting News
“In the 18 Ryder Cups since 1983, the first year that the modern era became truly competitive, the United States has accumulated 108½ singles points to Europe’s 107½. The Americans have won the 12-match singles session in 10 of those 18 years. It’s remarkably tight, but a look at the pairs matches in that time span tells a very different story. In those matches, Europe leads the U.S. 158½-129½ and has won the cumulative battle (16 matches over four sessions) in 14 of the 18 competitions. – Shane Ryan, Golf World
THE HORROR! Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods now have more losses than anyone else in Ryder Cup history with 22 and 21 respectively. Over the weekend, Mickelson was 0-2, while Tiger went 0-4 (That’s 0-6 combined!), which means that both have career losing records in Cup matches – 18-22-7 for Mickelson and 13-21-3 for Woods.
ALL FOR ONE: “There is something about the bond between teammates that is expressible for European Ryder Cup golfers, but that remains a total mystery for the Americans. There’s a kind of platonic love -- defining it that way would Americans deeply uncomfortable, but Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari embraced it -- that flows through them. Come the Ryder Cup, Ian Poulter is more than a prickly egomaniac; Rory is more than a faltering legend; Jon Rahm is more than a ball of fury; Justin Rose is more than a remote enigma. They find strength in one another, but it’s more than that -- they disappear into one another, and the entity they form is stronger than the ingredients that compose it. They are a team in the most mystical sense of the word. It makes them all better.” – Shane Ryan, GolfWorld
REED VS. SPIETH: Was there dissension in the ranks? Evidently. In 2014 at Gleneagles, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed went 2-0-1. In 2016 at Hazeltine National GC, they went 2-1-1. However, this year, Capt. Furyk paired good friends Spieth and Justin Thomas. Reed was not happy with that decision. “The issue is obviously with Jordan not wanting to play with me,” Reed said, who is the current Masters champion. “I don’t have any issue with Jordan. When it comes right down to it, I don’t care if I like the person I’m paired with or if the person likes me as long as it works and it sets up the team for success. He and I know how to make each other better. We know how to get the job done.”
And more second guessing and again it was Reid, who was unhappy about the fact that Furyk didn’t play him two of the four team sessions: "For somebody as successful in the Ryder Cup as I am, I don’t think it’s smart to sit me twice,” Reed said. He has a point, his record in the Ryder Cup the last
HOLY COW! CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG? According to James Corrigan of The Telegraph (UK newspaper), “Anger among the United States team over their dismal Ryder Cup defeat boiled over in the post-match festivities when their two top-ranked players, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka, had to be separated after a flare-up.
“So much for this new era of Stars and Stripes camaraderie. Witnesses recounted how the pair almost came to blows after they had been invited into the Europe team room, a few hours after the resounding home success at Le Golf National.
“The reason for the bust-up was not known, but it was a huge surprise as they are regarded as best friends. They played together in the Saturday afternoon foursomes, when they were beaten by Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson.”
WHO BLEW THE RYDER CUP? was the headline on USA Today’s For The Win website. According to the reporter Chris Chase, there is lots of blame to go around. However, he specifically pinpoints two men with Phil Mickelson being an active accomplice:
1) Captain Jim Furyk: “And the captain’s picks? Oh, let’s not get started on the captain’s picks. Furyk hand-selected four players: Tiger, Phil, Bryson DeChambeau and Tony Finau. The first three combined to go 0-9. Finau was the lone bright spot at 2-1 and, of course, he sat out two team sessions.
“We can blame Furyk for using Phil incorrectly. Starting the second-to-last ranked player in driving accuracy in alternate shot, which penalizes poor tee shots more than fourball (best ball), set up Phil for failure, piling on to the lack of confidence he clearly developed in a poor FedEx Cup showing. He sat Saturday (as he should have) and was clearly toast for Sunday when he got paired with Molinari. Actually, that seemed beneficial to the U.S. since the Italian was going to beat anyone and Phil was going to lose to anyone, so at least the U.S. killed two birds with one stone.”
2) Tiger Woods: “He went 0-4 over the weekend, losing two team matches with Patrick Reed, another with Bryson DeChambeau and then dropping a singles match to Jon Rahm. … Tiger became the fourth player in modern Ryder Cup history (since 1979) to start four matches and not come up with a single point. Overall, he’s 13-21-3 in Ryder Cup play.”
-- I lost count, but I think it is safe to say that the American TV analysts used the phrase, “That could be a momentum shifter,” at least 100,000 times over the last four rounds as they were looking for any hint of a U.S. comeback.
-- In what may be the understatement of the year, several times during Sunday’s singles matches, Johnny Miller said, “Phil’s (Mickelson) game is a little bit off.” He lost to Francesco Molinari 4 & 2.
-- Tony Finau was the one captain’s pick who played well for Team USA. He was 1-1 in his pairs matches and he defeated England’s Tommy Fleetwood 6 & 4 in the singles. After making a birdie on the 9th to take a 5-hole lead, Johnny Miller said, “He’s the American Ian Poulter.”
-- Did you notice how “the circle of friendship” was CONSIDERABLY shorter on Day 3 of the singles matches?
-- The 2020 Ryder Cup is being played at Whistling Straits in Kohler, WI. After looking at the probable line-ups and match-ups. I am predicting a relatively easy 16-12 USA victory!
Allan Stark (Yes, still a 13 handicap on my home course.)