Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Ryder Cup

In 1995, the United States was going for its third consecutive victory over Europe in the Ryder Cup.  The United States led 9-7 going into the last day, the match was taking place at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., and everything was looking good for the U.S. of A.  But the Americans collapsed -- losing seven of the 12 singles matches, and halving another.  The Europeans won 14 1/2 to 13 1/2.

That marked the beginning of a very bad stretch for the Americans at the Ryder Cup.  From 1995 through 2014, the Ryder Cup was played ten times -- and the Europeans won the Cup eight of those times.  To this day, the Americans still haven't won the Cup in Europe since 1993.  Their only victories were a miraculous come-from-behind win at the Country Club in Brookline, Mass. back in 1999, and an emotional triumph at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky. in 2008.

So I didn't pay much attention when the experts said that the Americans were heavy favorites to win this year's Ryder Cup at Hazaltine National Golf Club near Minneapolis, Minn.  After all, I saw Danny Willett (of England) beat Jordan Spieth in the Masters; I saw Henrik Stenson (of Sweden) beat Phil Mickelson in the British Open; I saw Justin Rose (of England) take the Gold Medal in the Olympics; and I saw Rory McIlroy (of Northern Ireland) beat Dustin Johnson to win the Fedex Cup.  So I figured the Ryder Cup would be another triumph for the Europeans.

I was wrong.  As you will see below, the Americans beat the Europeans 17 to 11 -- their biggest margin of victory since 1979.

Here's an interesting note from Wikipedia:  "Captain Davis Love III dedicated the win to Arnold Palmer, who passed away earlier in the week. A bag from Palmer's captaincy in the 1975 Cup was placed on the first tee during Friday's opening foursomes to honor 'The King.' Almost on cue, the U.S. swept the opening foursomes, the first instance since 1975."

And here are the scores (Americans listed first):

Friday, September 30:

Alternate Shot:

Jordan Spieth/Patrick Reed 3 & 2 Henrik Stenson/Justin Rose
Phil Mickelson/Rickie Fowler 1 up Rory McIlroy/Andy Sullivan
Jimmy Walker/Zach Johnson 4 & 2 Sergio Garcia/Martin Kaymer
Dustin Johnson/Matt Kuchar 5 & 4 Lee Westwood/Thomas Pieters

United States 4, Europe 0

Best Ball:

Spieth/Reed 5 & 4 Rose/Stenson
J.B. Holmes/Ryan Moore 3 & 2 Garcia/Rafael Cabrera-Bello
Brandt Snedeker/Brooks Koepka 5 & 4 Kaymer/Danny Willett
D. Johnson/Kuchar 3 & 2 McIlroy/Pieters

United States 5, Europe 3

Saturday, October 1:

Alternate Shot:

Fowler/Mickelson 4 & 2 McIlroy/Pieters
Snedeker/Koepka 3 & 2 Stenson/Matthew Fitzpatrick
Walker/Z. Johnson 1 up Rose/Chris Wood
Reed/Spieth HALVED Garcia/Cabrera-Bello

United States 6 1/2, Europe 5 1/2
(The two points won by Snedeker and Koepka on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning were huge.  Good for those guys.)

Best Ball:

Koepka/D. Johnson 3 & 1 McIlroy/Pieters
Holmes/Moore 1 up Willett/Westwood
Mickelson/Kuchar 2 & 1 Kaymer/Garcia
Reed/Spieth 2 & 1 Rose/Stenson

United States 9 1/2, Europe 6 1/2
(Reed and Spieth played in all four team matches, and consistently faced very strong European teams.  Their 2 1/2 points were enormous.  This is also a good place to point out that J.B. Holmes has been on two Ryder Cup teams, and both of those teams were victorious.)

Sunday, October 2:


Reed 1 up McIlroy
Spieth 3 & 2 Stenson
Holmes 3 & 2 Pieters
Fowler 1 up Rose
Walker 3 & 2 Cabrera-Bello
Mickelson HALVED Garcia
Moore 1 up Westwood
Snedeker 3 & 1 Sullivan
D. Johnson 1 up Wood
Koepka 5 & 4 Willett
Kuchar 1 up Kaymer
Z. Johnson 4 & 3 Fitzpatrick

United States 17, Europe 11

This was some fantastic golf by the Americans, who went 4-1 in singles' matches that were decided by only one hole.  Those are exactly the type of matches that have haunted them in the past.  Let's focus on the match between Reed and McIlroy.  This was the first match to go out, and the Europeans had wisely led with their strongest players, hoping to get the momentum.  As it turned out, Stenson and Pieters both won, so if Rose and McIlroy had also won, the Europeans would have been ahead 10 1/2 to 9 1/2, and the Americans would have been in huge trouble.  McIlroy has been on fire lately, and he was spectacular.  He played the front nine in 4-under par, with five birdies and only one bogey.  But Reed matched him with three birdies, an eagle (on a par-4!), and a bogey.  The eagle -- Reed made a 2 on a par-4 -- was Reed's only win on the front nine, but it meant that the match was all square at the turn.   Reed then won the 12th hole (with a par) and the 16th hole (with a birdie), and he was 2 up with three to play.  But Reed bogeyed 17, and he had a one-hole lead heading to 18.  Naturally, McIlroy birdied that hole.  But Reed matched his birdie to win the match.

Meanwhile, Fowler -- who was 1 down at the turn -- fought back with wins on the 10th and 16th holes to beat Justin Rose.  Over the last 10 holes of this match, Rose could not win a single hole.

Finally, it should be noted that Mickelson and Sergio had a match for the ages -- they both shot 63.  Sergio would have gotten a full point against almost anyone, but instead Mickelson hung on for a vital half.

And so, thanks to Reed, Fowler, and Mickelson, the six best European golfers could only combine for 3 1/2 points -- not enough to lead a come-from-behind charge.  All in all, a great victory for the Americans.


  1. It was fantastic. Koepka and Sneds were huge.

  2. i was in an airport yesterday and got into a great, lively conversation at security with a guy about the ryder cup.

    later i ran into a big bunch of people in san francisco giants t-shirts, and i got them going talking about the baseball playoffs. i love random interactions like these.