Call it a collapse. Call it a choke. Borrow loosely from New York Jets Coach Rex Ryan and call it a butt-kicking.
Whatever. The simple fact is that the United States had a Medinah meltdown Sunday afternoon and the European team retained the Ryder Cup with a 14 1/2-13 1/2 victory. Team Europe overcame a 10-6 deficit and the late arrival of its best golfer, Rory McIlroy, who failed to account for the Central time zone when he noted his tee time, for the emotional win that left American golfers, whose clutch putts failed to fall, in shock.
“We came here as a team,” Jim Furyk, who lost the key point to Sergio Garcia, said. “We wanted to win the Ryder Cup as a team, and we didn’t do it. But we are going to leave here in the same fashion. I’m pretty sure Sergio would tell you that I outplayed him today, but I didn’t win.”
No, he didn’t. And he had plenty of company. Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar and Brandt Snedeker did not deliver. Two of Davis Love III’s captain’s picks, Furyk and Steve Stricker, lost points at critical times. Stricker missed a makeable par that was the difference in his loss to Martin Kaymer. “I never had such a feeling before,” Kaymer said. “I’ll never forget it and I’ll be telling my grandchildren about it.”
And then there was Tiger Woods. He’d taken responsibility for past Ryder disappointments last week, but he wasn’t solely to blame for this deflation. It was a team effort, the Wall Street Journal’s John Paul Newport writes.
How could an extremely talented American Ryder Cup team blow a final-day lead as large any ever blown in 85 years of Ryder Cup history?
How could the five strong American players who went out first—Masters champion Bubba Watson, U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, 2011 PGA champion Keegan Bradley, Phil Mickelson and the recent FedEx Cup playoffs winner, Brandt Snedeker—lose all of their matches? How could the entire, gold-plated American team win only three of its 12 singles matches Sunday and halve a fourth?
Love will be second-guessed. He had 11 golfers with at least one win this season and two who had won majors this year, but his four captain’s picks went 5-8-0. “History will say [Jose Maria] Olazabal outcoached him by stacking the early Sunday lineup with stars to establish momentum,” the Chicago Tribune’s David Haugh writes. Love disagreed.
“I’m sure there’s a lot of great plans in a lot of sporting events that sound really good the night before, before the game starts, and then there’s a fumble or a turnover or something happens and it doesn’t work,” Love said. “What didn’t work [Sunday] is they played a little bit better than us and got some momentum and made it tough.
” … When you end up with the power and the excitement that we had in those first groups, and we had what we felt like was the steady-Eddie guys in the back [Woods, Stricker and Furyk], we thought it was a great lineup. Again, a few putts they made, a few putts we missed, and it would have been a huge difference.”
Perhaps, but the way this ended will leave many asking just who is to blame.