The 2018 Ryder Cup
For those of you who watched this incredible spectacle over the past weekend, how amazing was it?
For those who did not, here is our review.
I am not sure as to the advice that Jim Furyk got when considering the lead up to the 2018 Ryder Cup. Someone should have told him to instruct his players to get to Paris and play the course before the competition begun. I find it astounding that when golfers speak of the Ryder Cup and just how much it means to them to be selected and represent their country, they don't do due diligence and prepare by playing the course in the lead up. Of all the American team, only Justin Thomas bothered to spend any time at Le Golf National, Albatross course and it showed. There Mr.Furyk, was your first mistake and maybe the beginning of the end right there.
I know that all pro golfers think that they are such fine students of the game that any golf course is at their fingertips to destroy, but this course was never going play like that. Playing golf in Europe is just..... different. Thomas Bjorn knew it and so did the whole of Team Europe. The commentators kept repeating it over and over, "The places that the American team players are hitting the ball just shows that they do not know how to play this golf course."
The American media slammed the layout saying things like, "This golf course was far too tight for this tournament", "The course was not long enough for our players" and "The rough was far too punishing on the players" - but everyone played the same course. Yes, the rough was deep, but no more brutal than most US Open courses in recent years. It appeared the American team had no plan and had no idea how to play this golf course until it was too late.
The only player that did play here, Justin Thomas, was the player who scored the most points for his team and defeated Rory McIlroy in singles on the final day in an amazing match. Thomas scored 4 points through all of his matches and I'm guessing at some point probably muttered under his breath "If you guys had of come play it when I did, you would've won more too." There was also rumors that Captain America, Patrick Reed was very unhappy he was not re-paired again with Jordan Speith and this drove a little wedge in the group.
That being said, Team Europe did play some spectacular golf and the home crowd were incredible. The noise at times was thunderous and the songs they sung were inspiring. There were plenty of Americans in the crowd and they tried at times to match it with the European supporters, alas they had no hope. Course commentators kept talking about the roars that were going up at times around the course. These roars, followed by "Ole, ole ole ole, ole, ole!" or songs about Rory, Tommy Fleetwood, Molinari and Sergio kept the spirits of the European players high and the players lapped it up.
There were some great individual performances but it must be said, the Europeans just seemed to be a better TEAM than the Americans. The Molinari / Fleetwood combination went undefeated in doubles competition throughout the week. Fleetwood lost his singles match Tony Finau but Molinari got 5 points from 5 matches and never looked like losing. Sergio Garcia became the highest scoring Ryder Cup player of all time with his win on Sunday. Congratulations must go to Thomas Bjorn who put together this team knowing a few of them were a little out of form, but did it anyway. He had faith in each player in his team and they played for him and repaid that faith. It was always going to be a win for the locals after the 4-0 whitewash of Friday afternoon. Their confidence skyrocketed after that.
Their local knowledge of the course had them hitting it into the right spots time and time again and the putting on display was 1st class. Well, except for Rory on the last day. Sent out at the start of the Sunday Singles matches, Rory had the chance to set the tone. He went up early thanks to Thomas missing some short putts, but as the pressure mounted towards the turn, Rory's short putting was clearly not what it should be. If he had holed any of the 3 inside 8 foot putts on the back nine, he would have won easily. Instead his match went up the 18th hole, for the first time of the week and Thomas split the fairway, while Rory plugged in the fairway bunker. Match over.
Paul Casey won the 17th hole against Brooks Koepka in a match that did not go much either way throughout. Casey lost on Friday morning, but won the next day in the Fourball paired with Tyrrell Hatton. Justin Rose lost to Webb Simpson who was only one of 2 Americans who dominated their matches on Sunday. The other was Tony Finau who smashed local hero Tommy Fleetwood 6 & 4. The best matches on the Sunday though were Rahm Vs Woods and Poulter Vs Dustin Johnson.
Tiger Woods looked very slow during the week and still on Sunday. He took so much time lining up putts and walking around them, but was not making most. Jon Rahm was clearly unhappy about the time delays as he loves to play fast. Tiger made him putt short putts again and again and it paid with Rahm missing some. The eagle tiger made on the Par 5, 9th was amazing and for the next few holes they went back & forth. Rahm was keeping his head and his mouth in check in contrast to previous days. When he sunk his birdie for the win on the 17th green however, he erupted!
Poulter and Johnson were close most of the day. Poults was winning holes but there was no trademark chest thumping. It was like Thomas Bjorn had told his team to keep the celebrations to a minimum until the match was decided. Johnson was 1up heading to the 13th tee but as he had done a few times on Sunday, hit his tee shot way off target. Poulter made par to DJ's double, then proceeded to birdie the next 2 to be 2up going to 16. Johnson holed the second of his over 40 feet putts to make birdie and they were headed for the 18th with Poults 1 up. Poulter proceeded to knock his second close and the resulting birdie had him thumping his chest like a gorilla.
There were so many great moments during the Ryder Cup, but some of my favourites were Thorbjorn "Thunder Bear" Oleson winning 5 & 4 against Jordan Speith. Ian Poulter putting the mailbox costume on and running around the place after the win. Of course he is known as the postman, because he always delivers. Rory playing with Sergio on Saturday and them winning their match by firstly, Rory holing a par putt from 30 feet, followed by Sergio holing the winning match putt from 20 feet straight after. The crowd erupted into song and kept singing "Sergioooo, Sergioooo!" for ages after. There was a massive 7000 seat 1st tee stadium stand that was erected for the competition. This stand was huge and it went from yelling, screaming and singing to being able to hear a pin drop in seconds. The best stand I have ever seen at a golf tournament. Jordan Speith thumping his chest back at Ian Poulter when he defeated him on Saturday. The final putt of Alex Noren in the final game on Sunday against DeChambeau. Bryson DeChambeau had hit is stiff from the 18th fairway and Noren had 45-feet. Noren drilled it and the whole crowd, players, officials and captains all went crazy.
But, the best thing I witnessed all week was the crowd. The costumes, the cheering and the songs will stay with me for a very long time. This is the best golf tournament in the world and probably the best sporting event in the world as well. I always wanted to attend the Masters at Augusta and see how that tournament and it's traditions were observed, but after this Ryder Cup, I have changed my mind. I now want, no NEED to get to the Ryder Cup. There really is nothing like it on the world sporting stage.
So victory this time goes to Team Europe. The Americans will have to lick their wounds and head back across the pond to wonder how they got beaten so convincingly (17 1/2 to 10 1/2) in the end. They should realize though, most of their team are young and will be contesting the Ryder Cup for many years to come. The next will be on US home soil at Whistling Straights in 2020. There will not be any sign of Phil Mickelson by then. After his bad performance this week, he won't be picked ever again and perhaps we have seen the last of Tiger as well. I know you can never write off a champion and believe me, I don't want to either, but he failed to win a point this year and other than a few holes on Sunday, didn't really look like doing it.
For a tournament that pits America against Europe, this Aussie wants nothing more than to get there and witness it soon. Who wants to join me?
Video Highlights of the final days play
The Tommy / Molinari Chant