Monday, October 1, 2012

Ryder Cup: Day Three Wrap-Up

As Eric has already noted, the Ryder Cup finished exactly as we predicted.  The Americans fell apart on Sunday, and Europe walked away with a 14 1/2 to 13 1/2 victory.  Here were the results of the singles matches (U.S. players listed first):

Watson v. Donald 2 & 1
Simpson v. Poulter 2 Up
Bradley v. McIlroy 2 & 1
Mickelson v. Rose 1 UP
Snedeker v. Lawrie 5 & 3
3 & 2 D. Johnson v. Colsaerts
2 & 1 Z. Johnson v. McDowell
Furyk v. Garcia 1 UP
2 UP Dufner v. Hanson
Kuchar v. Westwood 3 & 2
Stricker v. Kaymer 1 UP
Woods All Square Molinari

Final Score:  United States 13 1/2 - 14 1/2 Europe

I'm of two minds about this result.  On the one hand, I have no doubt that Europe's top players are better than our top players, and I also believe that the Europeans as a team have a fortitude that our guys lack.  I expected Europe to win, and I think they are fully deserved winners.

On the other hand, I believe that Davis Love made a number of errors that contributed to our defeat.  He played Steve Stricker in three of the team matches, even though it was obvious that Stricker wasn't playing well.  He sat out Keegan Bradley and Mickelson Saturday afternoon, even though they were 3-0 and won their match on Saturday morning with a score of 7 & 6.  He took Furyk and Stricker as captain's picks, and they both played poorly throughout.

But most importantly, he made a huge mistake in setting up his lineup today.  Since the Europeans were behind, it made sense that they would start the day with their strongest players, hoping to build some momentum.  And so Love responded by putting his strongest players out first, in the hopes that they would prevent Europe from getting momentum.  But this was an extremely risky move for two reasons.  First, Europe's best players are generally better than our best players.  If you asked me, for example, to predict who would win the first four matches played today, I would have picked the Europeans in each match.  Second, since we had thrown away our best players in the early matches, we didn't have any strength at the bottom of the order to stop the bleeding.  (Yes, I know Tiger was down there, but he was 0-3 going into today).

Instead of worrying about trying to blunt Europe's momentum, Love should have worried about getting the four and a half points that he needed.  And that meant putting players like Bradley, Watson, and Simpson up against weaker opponents that they would be likely to handle.  (Personally, I wouldn't trust Nicklaus, Palmer, Snead and Hogan to beat the best Europeans on Sunday at the Ryder Cup.)  Love should have conceded the matches to Donald, Poulter, McIlroy, and Rose and then worried about how to get four and one-half points from the remaining matches.  But he didn't.

In terms of Ryder Cup history, these results are a big deal.  If the Americans had won today -- and especially if they had won by a decent margin -- then that would have been three Ryder Cups in a row won by the home team, and it would feel like the Americans had righted the ship after their humiliating defeats in the 2000's.  Instead, we now have to wait four long years before the Americans get another shot at the Cup.  The Europeans will pick up their usual victory on home soil in 2014, and will return to the United States in 2016 having won six of the last seven Ryder Cup matches.  Even worse, a solid group of young American golfers who could have started their Ryder Cup careers on a good note is now left with the same miserable snake-bit feeling that has hampered guys like Tiger and Phil for years.

It's all very, very sad.  But at least UK went 38-2 and won the national championship in basketball this year.


  1. Between this and the Dolphins' result, I started questioning whether I wanted to continue to follow sports where I had a true, heartfelt rooting interest.

  2. Just remember that UK went 38-2 last year. Wasn't that fun?