Red, White and Choke.

Unlucky Colors Sunday, Just Ask the Giants.

One of the good things about the Ryder Cup is that it only happens every two years.  It keeps the event fresh.  But considering what happened yesterday, you kind of want to play the thing again next week–give the US team a chance to redeem themselves.  They haven’t had many chances to win this event since the mid-nineties.  Letting a sure thing slip away becomes that much more painful.   So, what happened?  How did this happen?

1.  The Euros played out of their minds starting at about 4 pm on Saturday.  They flipped what could have been a 12-4 hole into a 10-6 that suddenly felt managable.  You can’t choke away an 8 point lead, but four has happened before.  European captain Jose Maria Olazabal was on the receiving end when the US turned the trick in ’99.   Olazabal took his hottest players, sent them right back out there Sunday early and was rewarded with a tide of great play and momentum.

2.  Davis Love didn’t adjust on the fly.  The U.S. Captain had a plan.  No one would play five matches.  He was going to stick with certain teams.  It’s hard to argue that it didn’t work, because the U.S. built a big lead, but they possibly left points on the table on the first two days.  Sticking with Furyk/Snedeker, Stricker/Woods and not playing Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson a fourth time all could have cost the U.S. the one additional point they needed.  Should Dustin Johnson (3-0) have played more?

3.  Phil was too bought in.  Mickelson said there was no way he could have played Saturday afternoon, despite playing just 12 holes of alternate shot in the morning.  This is the problem with being so rigid.  Phil and Keegan weren’t prepared to play in the afternoon and Mickelson is such a team guy he convinced himself it was the right decision.

4.  U.S. Veterans are too beaten down.  The core of Furyk, Stricker, Woods and Mickelson have been on the losing end of so many of these things, it’s hard to imagine they don’t get bad feelings when things start going the wrong way.  Take away Mickelson and that other trio combined for 1 point.  Hard to believe the U.S. even kept it close with those numbers.  It was possibly Furyk’s and Stricker’s last ride.  Tiger will have a few more chances to figure out team play.  Don’t get your hopes up for a late-career turnaround.

5.  Justin Rose and Ian Poulter.  Olazabal sat some of his best players (like Poulter) early and you wondered if that was going to cost him in the end, but the combined 3 miles of putts these guys made the last two days helped close the gap.  Poulter in particular raises his game.  He’s Colin Montgomerie like in that way, a very good player, who suddenly looks like he’ll win 10-majors when he gets to the Ryder Cup.  With the team in dire position Saturday afternoon, Poulter may have been one of the few Euros who hadn’t started thinking about defeat.

Outlook for 2014:  Hard to think the U.S. will have a great chance in Scotland.  The Euros are likely to tab Paul McGinley as captain.  The U.S. choice is up in the air, but there seems to be some early momentum for David Toms.  The good news for U.S. fans is that a lot can change in two years.  After Wales in 2010, I don’t think anyone was expecting a U.S. team led by Keegan Bradley and Jason Dufner.  The American side has plenty of young talent and some even stayed home (Mahan, Fowler, Watney).  The question is, can they make the putts and handle the pressure….for three days.



9 thoughts on “Red, White and Choke.

  1. I’m well aware of the benefits of hindsight, but let’s put it this way: Name me a European captain who would have sat Mickelson and Bradley on Saturday afternoon.

    • I’d feel bad for Furyk if I wasn’t still pissed.

      The bad news is, he’s probably going to be Captain in 4 years. That’ll be great.

  2. “You need to hear something,” Mickelson said after the matches. “Keegan and I knew going in that we were not playing (Saturday) afternoon, and we said on the first tee, we are going to put everything we have into this one match. And when we got to 10, I went to Davis and I said, ‘Listen, you’re seeing our best; you cannot put us in the afternoon, because we emotionally and mentally are not prepared for it. And I know you’re going to get pressure, because we’re playing so good. But we have other guys that are dying to get out there, and we have mentally put everything into this match; we won’t have anything later, and so you need to stay to our plan. So you cannot put that on him; if anything, it was me, because I went to him 10 and said that to him.”

    Really Davis? Grow a sack and make a fucking decision that might not sit well with the players.

  3. Yeah.

    I feel like that is partially the Couples influence. He makes a big deal at the Presidents Cup of asking guys who they want to play with, etc. .

    I think it works well for the team part, but maybe this went a bit too far.

    For as well as they played the 1st two days though, you could make the argument that Davis should have had them up 11-5 or even 12-4 at which point you could send out whoever you wanted and it’s over.

    But, 10-6 lead it’s on the players if you’re being rational. But I don’t want to be rational. I want to blame everyone. Davis gets his share.

  4. Two guys i was most disappointed in were Bubba and Brandt. Bubba fell apart on Sunday, yes he made a run, but he got flat out pummeled. Brandt came away with a point on the weekend, but it seemed to me that every time he had a chance to make a momentum swing, and pretty much every time i looked up actually and saw him on the screen, he was in the process of a buckle of some sort. They just looked mentally weak those two. For those two guys to put up the weak effort they did, when they’re supposed to be the up and coming leaders, is to me the really infuriating part of the whole experience and damning for the US going forward.

  5. I agree about Snedeker. Donald is a tough draw. Bubba kind of led that first shift of momentum that gave the lead on the 1st day. I think Sneds was overwhelmed.

    One of the issues with the US team is that they never seem to have a guy or two that raises their game in the Ryder Cup. Which guy on the US team played their absolute best golf? Bradley for 2 days. Maybe Dustin Johnson?

    The Euro team is always full of guys who play over their head. It’s always been that way. Even some of the better players like Sergio. But, it’s a long list, Monty, Olazabal, Poulter. Even a guy like Kaymer has been bleh most of the year and he pulls it together. The US is lucky to get 1 scrappy match from a guy.

    You hope Bradley can keep it up and maybe there is some more youth out there. Watney strikes me as a guy who might be decent in team play. Fowler was a strong match player. Maybe Dufner can be a silent assassin of sorts.

    The real mystery to me has been the recent Presidents Cups. Its not like those Asians/Aussies/South Africans can’t play and they’ve been getting throttled. Makes me think it’s all this special brand of pressure that brings out the US’s worst.

    I think much like Rory being almost ignorant to the beating Tiger put on his peers, the US team probably needs a whole group of guys who weren’t around for the bend over days of 1995-2008.

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