Their behavior wasn't the issue, as it was during a rambunctious 1999 victory celebration that offended the Europeans and has motivated them ever since. No, these Americans acted just fine -- it was their play that stunk.
No longer No. 1 in the world, never No. 1 in the Ryder Cup, an uninterested Tiger Woods had a losing record, again. Phil Mickelson switched clubs and practiced by himself, signaling the lack of team chemistry the Americans displayed all weekend.
An excited Chris Riley was ecstatic after making the U.S. team then, apparently shaking in his Foot-Joys, begged out of a key foursome match. Fred Funk looked to be in a funk, going 0-3, and world No. 6 Davis Love III managed only 1 1/2 points in five matches.
'Obviously, the pairings we sent out didn't create any charisma,' U.S. captain Hal Sutton said.
Sutton, called Captain Cowboy by the Euros because of the black hat he wore much of the time, couldn't have had a much worse weekend, starting with his decision to pair the ill-fitting Woods and Mickelson for the opening match Friday.
Sutton wanted to create momentum. He created a monstrosity.
'If they had good karma together, it would have been great,' Sutton said.
The karma, the chemistry, the charisma? This Dream Team lacked them all. The move gave Europe a significant psychological boost as it opened a 6 1/2-1 1/2 lead that was a precursor of the rout to come. Memo to Sutton: Now you know why your three predecessors never paired Woods and Mickelson.
'Second-guessing is a golfer's biggest problem,' Sutton said. 'We cannot second-guess what we did. I take full responsibility for the mistakes that I made. I thought there was no bad way to pair the guys we had.'
Yes, there were.
On Saturday, he scratched David Toms and inserted Jim Furyk at the last minute, even though Furyk was injured much of the year and already was 0-2 at Oakland Hills. He soon was 0-3.
He also sent Chris DiMarco and 50-year-old Jay Haas out for a second match only 15 minutes after they took nearly five hours to tour the course during an exhausting morning-round tie. Predictably, they lost 5 and 4.
'No matter what happens, you get second-guessed,' Love said. 'Tiger Woods, Davis Love, Phil Mickelson, We didn't lead this team like we should have.'
Leading by a record 11-5 going into Sunday, the Europeans shook off a brief U.S. run early in the day to get 7 1/2 points out of the 12 singles matches. They kept pouring it on, winning the last four matches and six of eight, then celebrated by pouring champagne on the 18th green.
That was fitting. While the Europeans looked loose and relaxed all weekend, chomping on cigars, the Americans were uptight and uncomfortable.
'I don't know what the answer is, but we have to do something different (in future Ryder Cups),' Love said. 'We try too hard.'
When the grim-faced U.S team turned off its own fans early in the week by refusing to sign autographs during a practice round, the amused Europeans courted the crowd by posing for pictures. That effectively defused some of the home-course advantage that is so indigenous to the Ryder Cup; by Sunday, some fans were saluting European star Colin Montgomerie by chanting, 'Monty! Monty!'
'Who knows the right thing to do? I think the right thing to do is to play better,' Toms said. 'We've got to right the ship early. I don't know what it is, but we've got to find the right formula.'
Talk about being Euro trashed. The 18 1/2-9 1/2 margin tied as the most one-sided since the present format was adopted in 1979, matching an American victory by the same score in 1981. Until now, Europe's largest margin of victory was five points (16 1/2-11 1/2) in 1985.
'All the Ryder Cups are close, the competition is close, the nature of the matches keeps it close, so to have this wide a margin is really rare,' Funk said. 'The sun shines on that dog, and they had it for three days.'
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