MEDINAH, Ill. – They’re winners.
They’ve combined to win 130 PGA Tour titles and 19 major championships.
As Ryder Cup players, however, they’re losers.
There’s no other way to put it.
They’re the American Triumvirate of Ryder Cup golf for all the wrong reasons.
It’s so at odds with the rest of their careers, the ugly, hairy mole on an otherwise gorgeous countenance.
“Historically, we suck in the Ryder Cup,” NBC analyst Johnny Miller said in regard to Europe’s run of four victories in the last five Ryder Cups and six of the last eight.
Woods, Mickelson and Furyk are the common denominator in the American Ryder Cup slump going back to the end of the last century.
In the six Ryder Cups they have all played together, the United States is 1-5.
They haven’t just lost a lot of these Ryder Cups together. They’ve been humiliated in more than one of them. They were on that ’04 team dealt the most lopsided loss in American Ryder Cup history (18 ½ to 9 ½) and on it again in ’06 when they lost by the same score.
“I would have expected, and definitely wished for, a much better record,” Furyk, 42, said before Tuesday’s practice rounds at Medinah Country Club.
Woods was asked if he feels any responsibility for the American swoon.
“Certainly, I am responsible for that because I didn’t earn the points that I was out there for,” said Woods, 36. “I believe I was out there for five sessions each time, and I didn’t go 5-0. So, I certainly am a part of that, and that’s part of being a team. I needed to get my points for my team, and I didn’t do that. Hopefully, I can do that this week.”
As the veteran foundation of this American team, the three of them get a chance this week to wash some of that losing out of their mouths. The victory champagne spilled Sunday night wouldn’t taste better to anyone than it would to Woods, Mickelson and Furyk.
Mickelson is 11-17-6 overall in Ryder Cup play. No American has lost more matches in Ryder Cup history, and no American has been on more losing teams (6).
Furyk is 8-15-4 overall. Mickelson and Raymond Floyd (16 losses) are the only Americans to have lost more Ryder Cup matches than Furyk, who is 1-8-1 in fourballs.
Woods is 13-14-2 overall and 9-13-1 with partners. If the United States loses again this week, Woods will become the first American to be on five consecutive Ryder Cup losers.
In Tuesday’s morning interview session at Medinah, Woods was asked if he thought the trio sported losing records because they’ve been on so many losing teams, or if the American teams have lost so much because the trio sports losing records.
“Both,” Woods said. “In order to win cups, you have to earn points and we certainly have not earned points. On top of that, I think Phil, Jim and myself have been put out there a lot during those years. So if we aren’t earning points, it’s hard to win Ryder Cups.”
Mickelson, Woods and Furyk have had each other as partners in this run.
Mickelson, 42, lost both his matches when U.S. captain Hal Sutton infamously paired him with Woods at Oakland Hills in ’04. Mickelson lost the only time he was paired with Furyk.
Woods is 2-2 when paired with Furyk.
American captain Davis Love III believes the Ryder Cup is just an odd and difficult team competition where records are easily skewed. He points to the Ryder Cup records of Hall of Famers Floyd (12-16-3) and Ben Crenshaw (3-8-1) as evidence.
“You look at a lot of our great players, and they don’t have great Ryder Cup records,” Love said. “I think even if you’re .500 in the Ryder Cup, you’re pretty dang good. If you’re above .500, like Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal were, you’ve had an incredible run in the Ryder Cups.
“It’s tough to win, first of all. Tiger can play and his partner not play well, or the other team plays extremely well.
“I kind of throw the Jim Furyk, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson record of wins and losses out. There’s a reason why these guys keep making teams, and I don’t look a whole lot at the record.”
An American victory this week does more than make the trio’s record look better. It shrinks the size of that ugly, hairy mole on otherwise beautiful competitive portraits. It helps wash away the bad taste of all that losing.