NEWPORT, Wales – Phil Mickelson salvaged some pride with his first win in this Ryder Cup, a 4 and 3 pounding of Sweden’s Peter Hanson in singles.
The world’s second-ranked player finished the team portion of the matches 0-3. That pushed the total number of losses in his eight Ryder Cup appearances to 17 – one more than Raymond Floyd and the most by a U.S. player.
“Every one of us can look back on a match and say that this could have been the deciding factor, that could have been the deciding factor,” Mickelson said after the U.S. lost 14 1/2-13 1/2.
“I want to try to be a leader, and the best way to lead is through play. … And when I didn’t win any of my first three points, I felt more disappointment than I’ve ever felt, because this was an opportunity for us to win here in Europe. The fact that we came so close, and I let some of these opportunities to gain points for our team slide, it does hurt more than some of the past losses.”
ONCE IS ENOUGH: Even though Colin Montgomerie said last week that he wouldn’t consider another stint as Europe’s captain, Lee Westwood decided to give it a shot.
Discussing Montgomerie’s legacy in the Ryder Cup – eight appearances, five wins, an unblemished record in singles as a player and now this victory as captain – Westwood said, “It’s difficult to talk about it when he’s 15 feet down the table from me.
“I grew up watching Colin. … Sorry, that’s not meant in a bad way, that, Colin. It’s not meant to make you feel old. But you know, unless he wants to do it next time, it’s the cherry on the top, isn’t it, when you can become a winning captain?”
Westwood barely finished talking when Montgomerie cut off any further speculation.
“I would just say to finish off that, that this is a one-hit time. I’m delighted that Europe has won this trophy, and I will not be doing this again, I can assure you,” Montgomerie said.
“We have a number of fantastic vice captains, plus (Jose Maria) Olazabal, and one of those five, I’m sure, will be your next European Ryder Cup captain who will defend, hopefully defend the trophy at Medinah in 2012,” he added. “It will not be me.”
THANKS, BUT NO THANKS: Handed a convenient alibi, Jim Furyk handed it right back.
Earlier in the week, the teams debated whether playing in the FedEx Cup would help or hurt a player. Some thought it would help them stay sharp, others that it would result in fatigue.
Nine members of the U.S. team qualified for the 30-man field compared to just one from Europe. Considering the soggy course conditions and the number of matches jammed into the third session – when Europe took 5 1/2 of a possible 6 points and built a 9 1/2-6 1/2 lead going into Monday’s singles – Furyk was asked whether winning the FedEx cost him his legs here.
He earned a half-point in the alternate-shot match, but lost both his better-ball and singles matches.
“I’m not making any excuses. I didn’t play the first session, so basically, I slept all week,” Furyk said. “I got to sleep in no matter what. So I’ve got no excuse, no regrets. I’m well rested, and I said it after I won the FedEx Cup in the media room there, if you can’t get up for a Ryder Cup, you can’t get up.'
“There’s 12 guys here that were committed to trying to win the Cup, trying to bring it back to the United States, and we have got no excuse for ‘I was worn out.’ I had a week off before going to Atlanta, so playing two weeks in a row is not tough, trust me.”
OLE! OLE! OLE!: The Ryder Cup might take a back seat to the Olympics and World Cup in terms of global popularity. But when it comes to serenading the players, the fans in Wales were the equal of any.
Supplementing the “Ole! Ole! Ole!” chant that has become a staple of European sporting events, fans rocked the grandstands at Celtic Manor nearly every time the Italian brothers Edoardo and Francesco Molinari passed by, singing “There’s only two Molinaris …” to the tune of “Guantanamera.”
When Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell passed by during a match against American opponents, the chants became “We’ve got G Mac, you’ve got Big Mac!”
Fans even greeted the fog wafting above the valley where the Twenty Ten course sits.
“Foggy, foggy, foggy!” one grandstand alongside the first tee chanted.
“Oi, oi, oi!” the other roared back responsively.
The singing also produced one of the most sportsmanlike moments of the final day. Europe’s Martin Kaymer was playing Dustin Johnson in singles when fans launched into “He’s got your major, he’s got your major!” The reference was to Kaymer’s win at the PGA Championship, where Johnson grounded his club in a bunker at the 18th hole and after being penalized, finished one shot out of the playoff in which Kaymer beat Bubba Watson.
Upon hearing it, Kaymer put up his hands calling for the fans to stop. They did.