SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France — The 42nd edition of the Ryder Cup turned out to be un collage à Paris.
That translates to a pasting in Paris, which the Europeans administered to an overwhelmed U.S. squad in the biennial continental clash. Over three sun-lit days at Le Golf National and in front of more than 50,000 spectators, Europe was simply magnifique while the Americans looked listless and were left to wonder why it all falls apart for them when the Ryder Cup is held overseas.
After taking a 3-0 lead Friday morning, the U.S. was in a spot of bother the rest of the way, losing a Ryder Cup record-tying eight consecutive matches that gave Europe an insurmountable lead. The U.S. struck up an early challenge Sunday morning in singles, cutting the deficit to one point, but Europe regained control and polished off its pummeling, winning 17½-10½.
“We didn’t execute like we had planned and wanted to,” Tiger Woods said. “I went 0-4. Obviously very disappointing. Those are four points that aren’t going towards our side. It’s going towards their side.
“To have a Ryder Cup end that way, for me personally, it doesn’t feel very good because I didn’t help my teammates earn any points. At the end of the day, we came here as a team and we win or lose, and unfortunately, we lost this one.”
After the Americans boarded a charter as a supremely confident bunch, with nine major champions, with all 12 players ranked in the top 25 in the world, with Woods having just won his first tournament in five years at The Tour Championship, the stunned team staggered into the media center after losing overseas for the sixth consecutive time, a drought dating to 1993. And the U.S. has won just three of the last 12 playings of the Ryder Cup.
“At the end of the day, you’ve got to tip your cap to Europe,” U.S. captain Jim Furyk said. “They outplayed us.”
Now the Americans will put on their thinking caps ahead of the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. That’s what the Americans did in 2014 after winning the Ryder Cup just once in seven tries between 2002 and 2014. A Ryder Cup task force was created to analyze its losing ways and produce a plan for success that included players having more ownership of the process and the team.
The U.S. turned the tide with a blowout victory in 2016 at Hazeltine National in Minnesota, along with victories in 2015 and 2017 in the Presidents Cup, where the same plan was in use.
Now, it might be time to return to the blackboard to figure out why victory across the pond is such a foreign concept. The Ryder Cup committee, which replaced the task force and consists of Woods, Furyk, Phil Mickelson and three executives of the PGA of America, will do just that.
But sometimes what analytics can tell us, what history has shown us, isn’t enough to trounce the mystery of life and in this case, golf. Sometimes there are no answers to be found and you just play the game.
Case in point, the perfect blueprint wouldn’t have defeated a European squad that was comfortable on home soil and at Le Golf National — the European Tour’s French Open is a regular stop here. British Open champion Francesco Molinari led the way by winning all five matches he played. Rookie Tommy Fleetwood won four points, while veterans Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson each won three points. Every European won at least one point. And the team wasn’t exactly chopped liver — all 12 players were ranked in the top 45 in the world.
And the perfect blueprint wouldn’t have made up for Woods going 0-4, world No. 1 Dustin Johnson going 1-4, and Mickelson going 0-2 and being benched both sessions on Saturday.
“I thought that the way (Furyk) brought everybody in together on decisions, some of you might question some of the decisions, but everything was done with reason, input, and thought through, and then it was up to us to execute, and we just didn’t execute,” Mickelson said. “And let’s be honest. The European side played some exquisite golf. I mean, it was some phenomenal golf, and they flat-out beat us.”
So, there is no need to change the blueprint. The players bought in, they still have currency in the decision making, and they remain confident that they’ve been put in the best possible position to succeed.
Why change that? Sometimes, no matter what you do, you just get beat.
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