This might have been worst U.S. Ryder Cup loss

By Randall MellOctober 1, 2012, 2:14 am

MEDINAH, Ill. – The Americans never stood a chance.

Even with a commanding 10-6 lead going into the Ryder Cup’s Sunday singles, they were doomed.

There were just too many mystical forces working against them in a 14 1/2 to 13 1/2 loss at Medinah Country Club.

There were the Europeans playing in Seve Ballesteros’ Sunday blue, the garb once fancied by the man who became a legend escaping from more tough spots than Houdini. The Euros had his emblem on their shirt sleeves. They had his silhouette on their golf bags. Mostly, they showed they had his indomitable spirit in their marrow.

“I think if Seve could have written this script, he would have written it exactly like this one,” Europe’s Graeme McDowell said.

Ballesteros would have liked the way Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia dug themselves out of holes Sunday to win vital matches. Rose was 1 down to Phil Mickelson with two holes to play but poured in birdie putts at the 17th and 18th holes to win. Garcia was also 1 down at the 17th but likewise won the final two holes to defeat Jim Furyk.


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“I have no doubt in my mind that Seve was with me today,” Garcia said. “Because there’s no chance I would have won my match if he wasn’t there.”

There was another force working against the Americans.

There was September in Chicago.

The Americans confirmed no lead is safe in this city in September. Cub fans know this better than anyone, and now the folks who live here have another epic collapse to remember, one as stunning as the Cubs’ blown pennant in ’69.

The way the Americans struggled Sunday, you had to wonder if they were playing on the same type of turf used at Wrigley Field.

You had to wonder if a guard at the front gate of Medinah turned away a restaurant owner wanting to bring his billy goat inside with him to watch Sunday’s finish.

And now you have to wonder if that Chicago cop who helped a desperate Rory McIlroy make his tee time with a police escort will be looking to rent a room from Steve Bartman.

Apparently, beating the Americans has become as easy as rolling out of bed.

Saying he confused the U.S. Central Time Zone with its Eastern Time Zone, McIlroy arrived just 10 minutes before his tee time with the police escort. He didn’t hit a single shot on the practice range but was 2 up on Keegan Bradley after six holes and went on to beat him, 2 and 1.

“We’re all kind of stunned,” American captain Davis Love III said. “We know what it feels like now from that ’99 Ryder Cup. It’s a little bit shocking.”

Love was on that ’99 team that won at Brookline in the greatest comeback in Ryder Cup history. The Europeans on Sunday equaled that historic comeback in winning for the fifth time in the last six Ryder Cups, the seventh in the last nine.

With the Europeans charging early Sunday, you had to wonder if ’99 U.S. captain Ben Crenshaw was watching somewhere with a bad feeling about this.

Olazabal was on that European team that lost so epically. He was in the middle of the chaos when Justin Leonard holed an improbable bomb at the 17th at Brookline to set up the United States’ victory. Leonard rolled that putt in against Olazabal.

Asked on Saturday night, if, like Crenshaw, he had a “good feeling” about what was going to happen on the final day, Olazabal said he believed.

“I think the boys understood that believing was the most important thing, and they did,” Olazabal said.

Sunday was a sad day for the Americans, but it was a great day for golf, a spectacular Sunday of dizzying dramatic turns.

The Ryder Cup proved yet again it is the best event in golf, a spectacle even more magical than the Masters, if that’s possible. The golf is so much larger in the Ryder Cup, it feels like it ought to be played on Mount Olympus. The thrills are so much grander, the heartache so much more severe.

Unfortunately for the Americans, they’re becoming more familiar with the heartache.

Steve Stricker felt the sting of another Ryder Cup as deeply as anyone.

With the first five players Europe sent out Sunday winning, the match boiled down to Stricker on the final hole in the second-to-last match. After lipping out a 6-footer for par at the 17th to fall 1 down to Martin Kaymer, Stricker knew the match’s outcome was on him. He had to win the 18th or Europe would retain the cup.

Stricker watched Martin Kaymer halve the hole by sinking a 6-foot putt at the last to deal the Americans yet another Ryder Cup disappointment.

“I just didn’t get it done,” Stricker said. “I’m a little stunned. I can’t really believe what happened to us.”

The Americans have been dealt some bitter blows in the Ryder Cup. There were the back-to-back record routs in 2004 and ’06, but this might have been the worst loss of all. The collapse coming with the Americans feeling as if they had one hand on the cup makes the loss that much harder to swallow.

Tiger Woods endured his fifth consecutive Ryder Cup loss.

No other American Ryder Cupper has ever played on five consecutive losing teams.

Mickelson has now played on seven losing Ryder Cup teams. No American has been on more losing teams.

Mickelson’s Ryder Cup record is now 14-18-6. Woods is 13-17-3. No Americans have lost more matches than Mickelson and Woods.

American veteran Jim Furyk felt the sting, too. He bogeyed the final two holes to lose to Garcia. In a year in which Furyk endured losing the U.S. Open and the WGC-Bridgestone with late stumbles, Furyk drove home just how important the Ryder Cup has become.

“This is the lowest part of my year,” Furyk said.

It was a wild, wondrous Sunday that ended with it feeling like the Americans never stood a chance.


Relive Day 2 Ryder Cup matches Monday at 8 p.m. ET and the singles matches Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET.

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Rory: Phil said RC task force just copied Europe

By Randall MellFebruary 21, 2018, 7:21 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Playing the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am two weeks ago, Rory McIlroy quizzed Phil Mickelson about what the Americans got out of the U.S. Ryder Cup task force’s overhaul.

McIlroy and Mickelson were paired together at Pebble Beach.

“Basically, all they are doing is copying what the Europeans have done,” McIlroy said.  “That's what he said.”

The Europeans claimed their sixth of seven Ryder Cups with their victory at Gleneagles in 2014. That brought about a sea change in the way the United States approached the Ryder Cup. Mickelson called out the tactics in Gleneagles of captain Tom Watson, who was outmaneuvered by European captain Paul McGinley.


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The Americans defeated Europe at Hazeltine two years ago with that new European model.

“He said the first thing they did in that task force was Phil played a video, a 12-minute video of Paul McGinley to all of them,” McIlroy said. “So, they are copying what we do, and it's working for them. It's more cohesive, and the team and the core of that team are more in control of what they are doing, instead of the PGA of America recruiting and someone telling them what to do.”

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Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 21, 2018, 7:00 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


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Woods happy to help Furyk at Ryder Cup

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 6:58 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods didn't hesitate when Jim Furyk asked him to become a vice captain at the upcoming Ryder Cup.

Woods said Wednesday that Furyk asked he and Steve Stricker “a while ago” whether they were interested in being assistants in Paris as the Americans try to win a Ryder Cup on foreign soil for the first time in 25 years.

“He’s one of my best friends,” Woods said of Furyk, “and whatever he wants, whatever he needs, I’m there to help him. We’re worked well the last couple of years in the cups together.”


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Though Woods has said that he wants to be a playing vice captain, he has been an assistant at each of the past two international team competitions.

Furyk, Woods and Stricker were all assistants at Hazeltine, where the U.S. won in a rout.

“Jim is very detailed, very smart, very analytical, and he’s just a fantastic leader,” Woods said. “For him to ask Stricks and I together, it will be special for both of us.”

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Woods to hit '4 or 5' drivers each day at Honda

By Ryan LavnerFebruary 21, 2018, 6:25 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Those hoping Tiger Woods will wield the driver early and often this week at PGA National likely will be disappointed.

Depending on wind direction, he said he will only hit “four or five” drivers each round.

During Wednesday’s pro-am, Woods hit driver on six holes. He found two fairways with the big stick and found the right rough four times, though a few of those misses were only a few yards off the fairway.


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In two starts this year, Woods has struggled mightily with every club off the tee, but driver has been especially troublesome. He has found only 36 percent of the fairways so far (30 of 84).

The Champion Course here is a par 70, with water and bunkers often lining the fairways. Putting the ball in play off the tee will be at a premium, and so Woods opted for a low, penetrating 2-iron six times in the pro-am.

Woods said he did not make any equipment changes following the missed cut at Riviera.