They woke Sunday knowing the 43rd Ryder Cup already had ended by any rational view, wrapped up with one more day on the docket. The United States’ modern-record 19-9 win, finished with a 7-3-2 mark in Sunday’s 12 singles matches, became that rare golf event that should have featured carts — if only because they could have served as gussied-up parade floats.
Imagine the DeChambeau.
It became one leisurely Sunday, with near-perfect air only slightly humid, with skies overcast, with wind absent as if it, too, favored the Americans and with all the pregame suspense of Ohio State vs. Akron or Alabama vs. Southern Mississippi. It sustained a Ryder Cup trend of late, with the past four having gone heavily to the home sides — Europe, United States, Europe, United States — with deepening severity — 16½-11½, 17-11, 17½-10½, 19-9.
As a further statement of the home edge in a Wisconsin Ryder Cup with a Wisconsinite captain, Steve Stricker had 14 of the pins in the backs of the greens, the better to suit his squad of bombers. Suspense-wise, Ryder Cups have become better anticipated than lived.
“This is the pattern that we are on,” Europe’s Rory McIlroy said.
At parades, however, crowds do encourage.
Bryson DeChambeau, who blasted a 354-yard drive to the No. 1 green to start singles match No. 4, then made a 41-foot eagle that slowed up and gently plunked down, then bested Ryder Cup maestro Sergio Garcia, 3 and 2, then said of the crowd: “I fed off every single shot. They were electric.”
What an unforeseen and unforeseeable moment to hear a grandstand at No. 9 chanting “Harris English! — clap, clap, clap-clap-clap — “Harris English!” The great 24-year-old Collin Morikawa, whose surname fit neatly into that four-syllable cheer at No. 17, said, “You can feel the momentum in the air.” But, of course, it’s easier to feel momentum that started gaining steam two days before.
Morikawa, a two-time major winner with the off-course demeanor of a dream son-in-law and the on-course wiles of a damned beast, clinched the thing around 3:35 p.m. Central time. He sent his tee shot on No. 17 caroming off an embankment on the left of the green and moseying on up to the front door of the cup at three feet.
He made that three-footer, of course, at a lovely waterside juncture of the course just before it turns away from the lake toward home, and the crowd stood 20-deep in some places, giving him the 21st-century salute: cameras aloft en masse. That assured at least a halving of the match with Viktor Hovland — the halving did come — and pushed the United States to an insuperable 14½ points.
As another telltale moment, Morikawa and Hovland made their way up No. 18 while word came that another great, four-time major winner Brooks Koepka, had done No. 17 one implausible notch better, sending his tee shot barely by the right lip of the cup to one foot. BBC radio commentators discussed this American team as “special.” A telltale BBC clip, on the idea of the Europeans needing to find their youth to counter American youth: “That could be a real — wow, what a shot by Dustin Johnson — that could be a real discussion.”
Morikawa, a rookie, went 3-0-1. Scottie Scheffler, a rookie, beat the world’s best player, Jon Rahm, by a steep 4 and 3, and Scheffler’s second match-play win over Rahm this year dropped the king to 3-1-1 here. Patrick Cantlay, a rookie, went 3-0-1, including a 4-and-2 triumph over Shane Lowry on Sunday. Second-timer DeChambeau went 2-0-1.
And Johnson became only the third Ryder Cup player — and the first American since Larry Nelson in 1979 — to play all five sessions and win all five sessions.
“Collin and Xander [Schauffele], very good partners — thank you for making my record,” said Johnson, 37, the world’s No. 2 player and the not-so-old, oldest U.S. team player.
“That’s five and oh,” Morikawa said.
“Five and oh speaking,” Tony Finau said.
“Poor guy went out there to get the six points,” Justin Thomas joked, naming an impossible number in a five-session event, “but all he could do was five.”
“They’re just so talented,” Stricker said. “. . . So it really was just staying out of their way.”
“The American team have been total class in terms of how they played,” McIlroy said of a team with 10 of the world’s top 13 players. “You know, they have been dominant.” They long since had treated McIlroy to the worst of his six Ryder Cups, his 1-3 record spilling him to 12-12-4 lifetime even after his 3-and-2 win over Schauffele on Sunday, leaving McIlroy bummed about letting down his mates.
They did all this in that parade setting. It’s novel to watch a parade by boat, so at one point along No. 7, there floated 43 boats out there in view, with the stars and stripes on many a mast and one noble kayaker in a red one, churning along between them, as the grandstand roared for Thomas’s latest fist-raise, his par to go 2 up on Tyrrell Hatton in a 4-and-3 bloodletting. “I loved everything about the entire week,” Thomas said.
“I’ve only lost one other one,” seven-time Ryder Cup player Ian Poulter said, “and it’s dismal.”
“How much it hurts and how much you despise it and how much you can’t wait for it to come around in two years’ time and win it back,” 48-year-old Ryder Cup mainstay Lee Westwood said, eyeing 2023 in Italy.
“He obviously got his plan right,” Europe captain Padraig Harrington said of Stricker, a man he called “one of the good guys in golf.”
The parade crowds did have a day. They wore their giant Uncle Sam hats, their Declaration of Independence shirts, their U.S. hockey jerseys with KANE 88 and ERUZIONE 21 and O’CALLAHAN 17. They wore their Aaron Rodgers, their Baker Mayfield, their Aaron Rodgers, their Tom Brady, their Aaron Rodgers. There were Auburn folding chairs and Alabama caps and ample Wisconsin Badgers gear to show such durable spirit after a dispiriting Saturday against Notre Dame at Soldier Field. For a mild stab at balance, four guys did wear pleasantly jarring T-shirts with photos of Shane Lowry.
The packed grandstands at No. 18 gamely made noise even with no golfers present or even close to present. On a hillside by No. 17, five friends sat happily in the parade air, posed for photos and spoke of having to go back to real life come Monday. Barbs toward Europeans tended to be weak, as in parades, with a guy along No. 9 exhorting Tommy Fleetwood, “Get a haircut.” And while few people toppled down the slopes of a dramatically hilly course that’s hard to walk, one guy did tumble a bit — and committed an athletic feat when his lips retained his cigarette.
Parades do have their sideshows.
Read on for live updates from Sunday’s action.