Americans end Europeans rule

By Brian HewittSeptember 21, 2008, 4:00 pm
LOUISVILLE, Ky. ' Sunday at the Ryder Cup is a riot of colors; a cooker of pressure; a cauldron of noise; an orgy of national pride; a stampede of fans-gone-wild and a spicy hot mixed grill of emotion and tension for the protagonists.
 
Once you have witnessed one, even if you dont know a halve from a half, as long as you fancy the game, you will be addicted. The winner, at the end of this exhausting, long days, flag-waving journey into night, lays claim to the biggest and best bragging rights in all of golf.
 
That winner Sunday at Valhalla Golf Club was the United States of America by a decisive margin of 16-11. The runner-up was Europe.
 
U.S. Ryder Cup team
The U.S. team celebrates its first Ryder Cup win since 1999. (Getty Images)
There were no losers in the strictest sporting sense. But a baked dozen of Europes best players dont really want to hear about that right now.
 
Of course it hurts, said Euro captain Nick Faldo. When youve come here and youve made such an effort to come and play.sure, losingit always hurts.
 
American rookie Anthony Kim set the tone for the final day singles early on when he birdied three of the first four holes against Sergio Garcia in the first match out. It whipped a huge crowd into an even bigger frenzy and it resulted in a 5-and-4 victory.
 
Hours later the USAs Jim Furyk closed out Spains Miguel Angel Jimenez with a two-putt par on the 17th hole and the Ryder Cup was back on American soil to stay, for at least two more years, for the first time since 1999.
 
Now the critics of controversial European captain Nick Faldo, and they are legion on the other side of the Atlantic, will prey on his decisions.
 
The fatal one was his positioning of Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Padraig Harrington in the 10th, 11th and 12th spots Sunday. Poulter was Faldos best player all week, finishing with a 4-1-0 record. Westwood has been a Ryder Cup stalwart since 1997. Harrington is the reigning British Open and PGA champion and the No. 3 ranked player in the world.
 
Its a cardinal rule in Ryder Cup captaining to make sure the scores of your best players count in the singles. Poulter, Westwood and Harrington were all still on the course finishing matches (that would turn out to be meaningless) when Furyk closed out Jimenez.
 
The history on this is obvious and it is recent. In 1999, Euro captain Mark James saved his best player, Colin Montgomerie, for last and he, too, posted a result that didnt matter in a pulsating American victory at Brookline. Three years later in England, American captain Curtis Strange sent Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods out 11th and 12th respectively. Their matches didnt count either in a European team victory that concluded with Mickelson and Woods still on the course.
 
But captains dont get to hit any shots. And Faldo, a six-time major winner, might have expected more from big guns Garcia, Harrington and Westwood. Those three combined to go a shocking 0-7-5. Thats right, not one of them captured a single match in three days.
 
Oh, and by the way, the underdog won. The talk of this topic began moments after Europe thrashed the Americans 18 -9 two years ago in Dublin. And it continued right up until the first tee time Sunday.
 
As late Saturday evening, long after darkness had covered Valhalla, this subject came up again with the principals. I think, American captain Paul Azinger said to a small group, quietly anticipating the question, Europes probably still favored.
 
Moments later a weary Faldo scoffed when asked who he thought the underdog was now that only the 12 singles matches remained and his European squad trailed by two points.
 
Even, he said tightly.
 
Meanwhile, by the end of this biennial bash, there were even more American heroes and statistical anomalies everywhere you wanted to look.
 
Kim went 2-1-1 in his first Ryder Cup. So did Furyk. Hunter Mahan, who earlier this year wasnt so sure he even wanted to play in a Ryder Cup, won two matches, lost none and halved three.
 
I wish every golfer, every player on Tour could experience this, a reformed Mahan said, because it is just amazing.
 
Justin Leonard wound up with a winning record as did Kentuckian Kenny Perry, Boo Weekley, Kentuckian J.B. Holmes, Furyk and Chad Campbell, one of Azingers four captains picks.
 
I couldnt in my farthest dreams have imagined this thing to play out like this, Holmes said.
 
The 10 rookies in this Ryder Cup actually had a better overall record (15-9-10) than the 14 veterans (17-22-16). So much for experience.
 
The conclusion here: In golf, where nerves fray easily over time, perhaps the Ryder Cup is becoming a young mans game. Meanwhile a stunning total of six European players failed to win a match.
 
All 24 players had earned at least a half a point before Sunday. So the hounds, as they say at the finest fox hunts in Britain, had been blooded before the singles.
 
Or as north Floridas Boo Weekley, playing in his first Ryder Cup, put it Saturday night, I feel like a dawg somebody done stuck a needle in and juiced me up like a greyhound chasing one of them bunnies.
 
Precisely.
 
In the end, it was left for the 48-year-old Perry to have the final word. Perry had announced making the Ryder Cup this year was his only goal. He played just one round in the four major championships. And he took a lot of heat for skipping the U.S. and British Opens.
 
I figured this was going to define my career, Perry said. But you know what, it made my career. Its the greatest day of my life.
 
By then the golf was finally over Sunday at the Ryder Cup. The sun was setting in the Kentucky hollows at this place called Valhalla. But the buzz was still fresh.
 
The celebrating from another Ryder Cup Sunday would be going on until long into the next morning.
 
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
 
Related Links:
  • U.S. Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • European Ryder Cup Team and Records
  • Full Coverage - 37th Ryder Cup
  • Getty Images

    Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

    By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

    NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

    Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

    The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

    Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

    Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

    Getty Images

    Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

    Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

    Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

    Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

    4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

    4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

    4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

    4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

    4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

    5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

    5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

    5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

    5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

    5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

    6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

    6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

    6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

    6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

    6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

    6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

    7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

    7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

    7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

    7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

    7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

    7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

    8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

    8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

    8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

    8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

    8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

    8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

    9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

    9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

    9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

    9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

    9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

    10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

    10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

    10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

    10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

    10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

    10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

    11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

    Getty Images

    Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

    He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

    “There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

    Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

    “I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

    Getty Images

    Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

    Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

    Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

    “I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

    Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

    “It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

    More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

    “I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”