News & Opinion

Americans beat themselves convincingly

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Did it seem like the Americans were uninterested, distant or just plain flat during the Ryder Cup?

The mannerisms and body language of the U.S. 12 seemed more like pallbearers at times than a group trying to defend the Ryder Cup.

How is this possible?

It’s not as if the event was the afterthought, which it used to be in the 1950s and ’60s.

The players and media start talking Ryder Cup after every victory on the PGA and European tours. They scrutinize the updated points list every Monday and write about who’s in and who’s on the bubble.

The importance of the Ryder Cup is no secret.

So why the long faces here on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, resulting in a 17½-10½ loss to Europe? Where was the emotion, the gravitas from the veterans? What happened to embracing the moment?

During Sky Sports’ coverage of the Ryder Cup, Paul McGinley, who captained Europe to victory in 2014 at Gleneagles in Scotland, made an insightful observation about Tiger Woods. McGinley said that a Ryder Cup player should exude confidence and support for the team and his partner, even when he is not playing very well.

McGinley concluded that Woods, who went 0-4-0 at Le Golf National, was very poor at it (scores).

In golf, losses are the norm. In stroke play, only one of the 156 players can win. Aside from Woods or Phil Mickelson, the percentage of winning weeks for the top golfers in the world is in the low single digits, at best.

But the Ryder Cup is different. Competitors theoretically have a 50-50 chance coming in, and they need a different mindset upon teeing it up Friday morning.

After earning three points in Friday morning’s four-balls, the U.S. won only 7½ points over the last four sessions. That performance doesn’t indicate a good mindset.

Europe’s Alex Noren stood on the last green, having missed at least 30 minutes of celebration as the Europeans, up 16½-10½, had clinched their ninth cup in the past 12 meetings. American Bryson DeChambeau was 1 down and knew that he needed to stick it tight on the 18th green, and he did, to within kick-in distance.

Noren left his approach shot 50 feet short and left of the hole.

After conceding the putt to DeChambeau for a birdie-3, Noren stood up and drained the 50-footer.

The putt merely added to Europe’s winning margin, but Noren still took pride in not losing the hole and halving the match.

While DeChambeau made a valiant effort during his match and then dug deep to hit the best shot into the 18th all week, it was way too little for the U.S. team.

There has been a lot of talk this week about how well Europe played, but the victory was a combination of the Europeans’ good play and poor play by the Americans.

The number of holes that the Europeans won by par was 50 out of the 453, or 11 percent. That’s more than two holes per match.

McGinley said that the Americans were ill-prepared for the examination that was Le Golf National.

Did the Europeans play well? No question.

Did the Europeans beat the Americans or did the Americans beat themselves?

That is the question that will be hotly debated over the coming weeks and months. The early answer is that, yes, U.S. captain Jim Furyk’s 12 beat themselves in France.

Alex Miceli is the founder and publisher of Morning Read. Email: alex@morningread.com; Twitter: @AlexMiceli