By Robert Bicknell
Well, another Ryder Cup has come and gone and, as I predicted to some friends, Europe won again. Yes, it brought a bit of heat upon me for not being “patriotic” but I have to call them as I see ‘em and there was no way, in my mind, that Team USA would have a chance in hell of winning.
Before I go any further, let me congratulate Team Europe for playing a great match and rising to the occasions when necessary. They deserve to be Champions once again.
Now then, time for my armchair analysis…
First of all, it was on Team Europe’s home turf, France, and on a course many of them have played before. In addition, the Team Europe Captain, Thomas Bjorn, had the course set up to his specifications (within reason) and that meant very tight fairways. Also, the greens were a bit slower than what the US players were used to. On paper, it looked like a pretty even match-up, but reality is a very different animal.
OK, home course advantage aside, let’s address the elephant in the room…which happens to be a Tiger.
Tiger’s Ryder Cup record has always been crap and this time out he didn’t earn one single point for his team. Worse, he brought down two very good players, Patrick Reed and Bryan DeChambeau with him. In a nutshell, Tiger isn’t easy to pair with and, so far, the captains of the various Ryder Cup teams have failed miserably.
Breaking up a winning combination of Spieth and Reed was sheer insanity and putting DeChambeau with him was equally ridiculous. Yes, there were rumors of tension between Spieth and Reed, but they could have put it behind them for the good of the team.
In the end, it was Furyk’s decision and it sucked.
Both Reed and Tiger have massive egos, plus Reed is a showboat and that won’t fly with Tiger who used to being the center of the universe. How can “Captain America” share the spotlight with a living legend? It just won’t work.
The trick to pairing players is to have one guy who is explosive and another who is steady. Let the big dog go for it, but have the steady guy on hand to bail the team out if necessary.
Tiger and Reed are both explosive and it turned out to be an Acme Dynamite Kit which, predictably, blew up in their face ala “Wile E. Coyote.”
Honestly, it was just as bad as the Tiger – Mickelson pairing of years ago. However, this time around that pairing might have worked because they are both older and can play off each other.
The brilliance of Thomas Bjorn could be seen in sticking Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood in Tiger’s face as often as possible. Tiger couldn’t put away Molinari in the Quicken Loans National, or in the Open Championship at Carnoustie.
When Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood rallied to beat Woods and Reed, it sparked a run of eight straight European wins, which is a record.
Sergio Garcia made himself the highest-points scorer in the history of the Ryder Cup following his 2&1 victory over Rickie Fowler. That gives him 25 1/2 points in his ninth appearance, half a point more than Nick Faldo.
Funny, but ever since Sergio won here in Viet Nam at the Asian Tour event held at The Bluffs, he seems to be on a very positive roll. Hmm…
In any case, the bottom line has been what it has always been. It’s not rocket science. In a nutshell, European players act more like a team than the US players. It shows both on the course as well as even on the European Tour website.
Team Europe do things together, have a lot of fun being together and have each other’s back. I would guess it is because Europeans are used to relying on each other for their economy, support through two World Wars and due to the close proximity of their countries.
Americans, on the other hand, have always been more individualistic, which explains why they do better in the singles competition. Sure, they can compete in team sports like football, basketball and baseball, but underneath the team umbrella, they are still individuals striving to make themselves look good.
One man cannot stand against many. VNS