The more things change, the more they stay the same. For the seventh time in the last nine matches, the European team was hoisting the Ryder Cup at the end of the week.
Leading 10½ to 6½ coming into Sunday’s 12 singles matches, but the four-point deficit was too much to overcome for an American side that had seemingly cracked the winning code two years ago at Hazeltine.
Every time the Americans seemed to gain momentum on Sunday morning, the Europeans quickly and decisively snuffed it out. Justin Thomas edged Rory McIlroy in the first match of the day, winning 1-up, Brooks Koepka managed a halve in the second match against Paul Casey, Webb Simpson delivered a 3&2 win over Justin Rose in the third match out and Tony Finau, the lone bright spot among Jim Furyk’s captain’s selections, but needing just 3½ more points following the early onslaught, the Euros answered the bell.
— Ryder Cup Europe (@RyderCupEurope) September 30, 2018
Jon Rahm, playing against Tiger Woods, and Ian Poulter, playing against Dustin Johnson, flipped their matches in a matter of holes to secure two points that the U.S. desperately needed.
With the exception of Patrick Reed, who won his singles match 3&2 over Tyrrell Hatton, the Europeans erased any red from the leaderboards the flanked Le Golf National and stormed to 17½ to 10½ win, the largest margin of victory since 2006 at the K Club in Ireland.
”There’s always a moment where it looks like a spark of light,” Furyk said afterward. ”When it was there for us, Europe played really well.”
“Thomas was a better captain and their team out-played us. And there’s nothing else more you can say. They deserved to win.”
Among notables, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods combined to go 0-6 in the competition, with Mickelson’s two dropped points making him responsible for the most Ryder Cup losses of all time with 22.
On the flip side, Sergio Garcia’s 2&1 win over Rickie Fowler made the Spaniard the winningest player in Ryder Cup history having earned 25½ points, going 3-1 in the 2018 edition as a controversial captain’s pick. The 2017 Masters champion was brought to tears.
“I don’t usually cry, but I couldn’t help it,” Garcia said. “What a week. It’s been a rough year.”
For the U.S., it’s back to the drawing board before the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits. A difficult and penal setup at Le Golf National favored the more straight-hitting Europeans, proving just how much a venue can affect the matches.
Fittingly, it was Mickelson, he of the 2014 post-match press conference firestorm who calmed American minds when it comes to a sustainable and successful future for the American Ryder Cup team.
“This is an awesome team and we had phenomenal leadership. We had great vice captains. And we were put as players in a position to succeed, and these guys up here are such great players; that if you put these players in a position to succeed, they most often will,” he said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t happen this week. But we had a very special week here. We’ll continue to build on it, and improve in a couple of years.
“I think that some of you might question some of the decisions, but everything was done with reason, input, thought through, and then it’s up to us to execute, and we just didn’t quite execute.
“The European side played some exquisite golf. I mean, it was some phenomenal golf, and they flat-out beat us.”