There has been a lot said about what happened at the Ryder Cup. By the time Sunday ended and Phil Mickelson rinsed his final shot in the water, the embarrassment was over. Team USA would be heading home without one of the parties that made the trip across the pond with them, The Ryder Cup.
There are some people that are going to question splitting Spieth and Reed, including Patrick himself. I’m not buying that one. If Spieth and Thomas had not performed then I would say it was a bad idea. They were the only two players to play consistent in the team competition and if you add Fineu into the mix that was the highlight for the American squad. Oh yeah, Reed got to play with his boyhood hero and if you watched just how great both of them hit it you would understand why they lost.
Woods and Mickelson combined to go 0 and 6, that was cute. That was a great job by 2 captains picks.
By memory, I think he hit one “Tigeresque” shot the entire week. The 5 wood on 9 in his singles match. Other than that he hit too many shots out of the rough that he couldn’t advance to the green.
Phil on the other hand, got benched on Saturday because he deserved to. His play with DeChambeau in foursomes was embarrassing to watch. He hit a 5 iron on a par 5 off the tee, in match play, and promptly hooked it into the water. Great shot, my kids (ages 2 and 4) understand golf course strategy better than that. Way to play safe. Phil is going to continue to say that his game was close and that he was working on it hard that week but he hasn’t had much game since winning in Mexico this year. The shot on 16 was just a culmination of his year.
The USA team were outsmarted by the European squad. How, you ask? Let’s start with course selection. The Europeans always pick courses that they play on annually on the European Tour. All of the players on the European team have membership on that tour so they will go over and pick and chose which events they play in. They had all played there in professional events so they can go back to their old yardage books and look at green slope and their notes and know what they have to do. They also know the sight lines off the tee to find the fairway. The only player on the American side who had played in the French Open there was Justin Thomas, he went 4 and 1 (best record by any American).
When the PGA of America picks a golf course they like to make selections on courses that they chose for Major Championships. Courses that they players may have seen once or twice if they are lucky. This may be something we need to look at in the future.
Thomas Bjorn, the European Captain, set the golf course up to favor his players. He narrowed the fairways and grew the rough up to the point that you couldn’t play out of it. Then he told his players to work on driving accuracy. Oh yeah, very different than the American strategy of bomb and gouge. You couldn’t gouge out of the rough there and get close to any flag.
The Europeans were in position to attack flags and make putts, the US was left with 10-20 foot putts that they were having to be aggressive to tie holes, not win them. You can’t try to win points that way. Team USA was rarely in control of their own matches after the first session. That is why they lost.
After getting beat 4 years ago at Gleneagles, Mickelson called out the process and a task force was put together. They increased the captains picks from 2 to 4 so they could get the hottest players at that point to play. Yes, Tiger had a very solid year so I understand picking him. DeChambeau had won back to back weeks, it doesn’t get much hotter than that. Fineu, while he hadn’t won was an ATM machine in making money and he makes a ton of birdies, great in match play. Mickelson? Yes he won in Mexico, but since then? He had one great round in September. Looking at players like Keegan Bradley, number one in overall driving, may have been a smarter pick as he finds way more fairways than Phil every will.
Then we need to look at the schedule. There is all this debate as to scheduling for events and getting players the necessary rest to be at their peak to perform. I’m thinking we have not figured that one out. Playing all of the playoff events can be exhausting. With everything around Tigers victory at the Tour Championship the week prior you have to question his mental state. There were points out there where he looked very disinterested.
Many of the Americans played all of the playoff events while most of the European team had a couple weeks off. This gave them time to get over to France and get adjusted to the time difference and get their bodies ready to play. They were not coming off of events where they were grinding and working on playing for themselves. Hopefully with the PGA Tour schedule ending earlier next year they will have more time off to rest and not grind for a month.
Dads Say So, there is a lot that goes into preparing for such a big event. The Europeans treat the Ryder Cup as another major. Maybe it is time for the Americans to do the same. The European teams seems at the viewers eye to want it more. Maybe it is time we force the captains to look at stats, not history to select their captains picks. Then, maybe we will have a better chance. Hopefully, in two years, Whistling Straits will be better than this year was. We will not know if the Ryder Cup Task Force worked until we win in Europe. That is now the test for the American Team. We will all be watching.