By: Patrick Donnelly
Thomas Bjorn’s European squad ripped the Ryder Cup out of Jim Furyk and Team USA’s hands with authority at Le Golf National in Paris this weekend, winning 17.5 to 10.5 to regain the trophy after rolling into Sunday leading 10-6.
The Friday morning matches could not have started off better for the Americans, who led 3-1 after the first foursomes. Tony Finau and Brooks Koepka’s match against Justin Rose and Jon Rahm went the distance, with Finau and Koepka prevailing on the eighteenth hole to win their match 1-up and take the first point of the day.
Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler took care of Rory McIlory and Thorbjorn Olesen, winning 4-up on the 16th hole and putting the United States up 2-0. Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth went the full 18 holes against Tyrrell Hatton and Paul Casey, but came out on top, building a 3-0 lead for the U.S. squad.
However, Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed lost on the 17th hole to Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari, who were unbelievable for Team Europe this week. As for Tiger, this week was a microcosm of his career at the Ryder Cup, where he has found no shortage of struggles.
To say things didn’t go as well in the afternoon foursomes for the Americans would be an understatement. The Europeans absolutely dominated Friday afternoon, handedly sweeping all four matches. DJ and Rickie fell to Henrik Stenson and Rose. Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson lost to Ian Poulter and McIlroy. Sergio Garcia and Alex Noren beat Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau. Lastly, Molinari and Fleetwood defeated Thomas and Spieth.
It was the first time that Europe had swept the Friday afternoon matches. Much-maligned Garcia and Poulter were on an entirely new level this week for Europe, as typically is the case for those two, with Sergio becoming the all-time leader in Ryder Cup points. As for Phil, he gave his critics from this season that much more to talk about as he struggled quite a bit. Back in 2016 at Hazeltine, Lefty was certain he’d see action at the 2020 Ryder Cup, now his chances are very much in doubt.
Things only got worse for captain Jim Furyk and Team USA heading into the Saturday morning foursomes down 5-3 as Europe took three out of four points. Sergio and Rory handled Finau and Koepka with ease. Then, Casey and Hatton took care of DJ and Rickie. The third match of the morning saw Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood roll over Tiger and Patrick Reed. Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth were able to salvage at least a point from the morning, beating Ian Poulter and Jon Rahm.
In need of a bounce-back performance with Europe leading 8-4, Saturday afternoon was just “meh” for the United States. The two sides each took home two points from the afternoon. Stenson and Rose took care of DJ and Brooks Koepka while Molinari and Fleetwood were dominant yet again, dismissing Tiger and Bryson DeChambeau. Webb Simpson and Bubba were able to edge Sergio and Alex Noren as the pairing of Thomas and Spieth continued to be one of the only bright spots for Jim Furyk, handling Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy. At the close of Saturday, Europe held a 10-6 lead.
Heading into the twelve singles matches on Sunday, the United States needed to win eight points in order for a tie or 8.5 points in order to retain the Ryder Cup. It was far-fetched, but a comeback seemed doable for the Americans as there were some favorable matchups. Justin Thomas kicked things off by beating Rory McIlroy in 18 holes, cutting the European lead to 10-7.
Next, Paul Casey and Brooks Koepka halved their match, putting the score at 10.5-7.5. Things continued on the upswing for Team USA as Webb Simpson took down Justin Rose in 16 holes, making it 10.5-8.5 still in favor of Europe. Then, things quickly shifted to the way they had been the first two days as Jon Rahm took down Tiger after 17 holes to make it 11.5-8.5 Europe. T
ony Finau tried to get the United States back on track, taking down Tommy Fleetwood in 14 holes and cutting the deficit back down to two (11.5-9.5 Europe). The hope was short-lived though as Ian Poulter defeated Dustin Johnson (12.5-9.5 Europe), followed by Thorbjorn Olesen obliterating Jordan Spieth (13.5-9.5 Europe). The European win train continued as Sergio took down Rickie, sealing the win for Europe at 14.5-9.5; then, Molinari beat Phil in 16 holes making the lead 15.5-9.5.
Patrick Reed, “Captain America,” tried to at least make things seem closer than they actually were this week, taking down Tyrrell Hatton and bringing the U.S. up to 10.5 points, but Henrik Stenson rolled over Bubba Watson and Alex Noren beat Bryson DeChambeau to make the final score 17.5-10.5 in the European victory.
There was plenty to talk about this week in Paris at Le Golf National. For the most part, the golf was fantastic; of course, there was plenty of bad golf as well, especially from several Americans. The European crowd was electric to say the least along with a few groups of Americans and hecklers sprinkled in here and there, but these factors only gave way to some exciting celebrations and showmanship from guys like Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter, and Jordan Spieth.
After yet another failure across the pond at the Ryder Cup (the U.S. hasn’t won on European soil since 1997), there is a bit of controversy surrounding the United States squad. This stems from Jim Furyk’s decision to split up the dynamic duo of Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth. In the final press conference, Furyk and Spieth were diplomatic when Spieth was asked about the decision, saying it was a group decision, but Reed didn’t get to answer.
However, Reed’s wife was more than vocal about her and her husband’s apparent displeasure on Twitter and to the media while Reed himself seemed disgruntled when asked about it by the New York Times, saying it was Spieth’s call. Hopefully, these issues can all be ironed out before the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin or even as soon as the 2019 Presidents Cup. S
till, there were more questions for the United States than answers with one of those questions being why Tiger went 0-4-0 just a week after winning the TOUR Championship.
As for the European side, the celebration continues as the team dominated a course that fits their styles of play, winning their seventh Ryder Cup out of the last nine. It was another day in the office for the Europeans who look to be in prime position for the next time these two sides meet in 2020.