How Europe Won The 2018 Ryder Cup
FRANCE hosted the Ryder Cup for the first time in 2018 at the magnificent Le Golf National near Paris. It is a course that is well known to European golfers, as host to the French Open. But the Americans made a schoolboy error in the run-up to the event by failing to get to know it ahead of the event. And how they paid for it.
Thomas Bjorn’s side were inspired by Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari, who won four points together in the Friday and Saturday fourballs and foursomes. Molinari would also go on to win his singles match to become the first European ever to finish the match with a maximum five points.
In the end, Bjorn’s side ran out comfortable winners 17.5-10.5 after entering the final day with a 10-6 lead. At one stage on that final Sunday afternoon it looked like the visitors might be on the verge of a dramatic comeback as they reduced the deficit to a single point but the result was never really in doubt and America were denied a first victory on European soil since 1993.
It all started so well for the USA and their captain Jim Furyk as they won the opening day fourablls 3-1. Europe’s only winners were Fleetwood and Molinari, who defeated Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed.
But it was all downhill after that. Europe won all four of the afternoon foursomes matches to take an unlikely 5-3 lead into the second day. Bjorn used his players well, with all 12 men seeing some action on the first day.
The Saturday fourballs saw Europe continue to dominate with wins for Garcia/McIlroy (2 & 1) against Koepka and Finau, Casey/Hatton (3 & 2) against Fowler/Johnson and Molinari/Fleetwood (4 & 3) against Reed/Woods. Team USA secured their only point of the morning session with Thomas and Spieth defeating Poulter and Rahm 2 & 1, to leave the overall tournament at 8-4 in Team Europe's favour. Despite the strong performance, Team Europe captain Thomas Bjorn reiterated: "Nothing's won, we're just over the halfway stage. There's no bit happiness yet, there's still a determination and work to be done”
The afternoon session was drawn 2-2. It saw Team Europe's Molinari and Fleetwood win for the fourth time, a European record in the Ryder Cup, this time 5 & 4 over Woods and DeChambeau. Team USA's Spieth and Thomas defeated Poulter and McIlroy 4 & 3, while Simpson and Watson defeated Europe's Garcia and Noren 3 & 2. The fourth pairing saw Rose and Stenson narrowly beat Johnson and Koepka 2 & 1 as a result of some good putting late in the round.
The United States put their best players at the top of the order on Sunday, and despite the four point deficit threatened a comeback in the singles, as they won 3.5 points from the first five matches. Justin Thomas beat Rory McIlroy on the final hole as the latter's approach found the water, and Tony Finau defeated the previously unbeaten Tommy Fleetwood 6 & 4.
However, from then on Europe dominated, winning the next six matches to lead 16½ - 9½. Guarantees of at least a half-point each for Garcia and Stenson (both of whom later got full points) meant that victory was already assured before the 14½-point winning post was officially reached when Phil Mickelson, already three holes down, found the water on the 16th hole and conceded the hole and match to Molinari, who became the first player for Europe to score what is now the maximum possible five points in a single Ryder Cup.
The remaining two matches were shared between the teams, leaving the final score 17½–10½ to Europe. Sergio García's singles win made him the all-time Ryder Cup points leader, with 25½ points in nine appearances, overtaking Nick Faldo’s 25 points in 11 appearances.
And once again, the US media turned on their players.
“Over three sunlit days at Le Golf National and in front of more than 50,000 spectators, Europe was simply magnifique while the Americans looked listless and were left to wonder why it all falls apart for them when the Ryder Cup is held overseas,” write Steve DiMeglio in USA Today. And Michael Rosenberg, of Sports Illustrated, wrote: “You could just say the better team won, I know that might not feel very American. It’s easier to blame the coach or scream at a referee or hire a lawyer to file an injunction. But Europe was better. That was the story here at Le Golf National, and maybe we just ought to acknowledge that the winners (by a 17.5-10.5 score!) played some incredible golf.”
CBS Sports’ Kyle Porter said the Americans were still the more talented team, but had not performed to the level they can. “In a sport where the margins are thin, these margins are not, and that’s sort of the problem,” he wrote. "The Europeans played about how you would expect a team of their caliber to play in a Ryder Cup. They’re a solid team full of good players. The US players are better by every statistical measure. They represent six of the last seven major winners. Europe doesn’t even have six total major winners on its team. Europe is what we thought they were, but the United States did not rise to the occasion. They didn’t even roll over for the occasion. They just laid down and took the beating.”
Some questioned Furyk’s captaincy, and the New York Times’ Karen Crouse wrote: "In the end, the United States lost despite parading out an all-star team that included nine players who have won majors, for the same reason as ever: the Americans are not a band of brothers. In 2014, after another loss on foreign soil, Phil Mickelson disparaged Tom Watson’s my-way-or-the-highway leadership, leading to a rule-by-committee approach. But the harder the Americans try to manufacture a connection, a cohesion, the more spectacularly they fail.”
It was the worst USA defeat since 2006, when they lost 18-5-9.5 at the K Club.
Friday morning fourballs
Rose/Rahm lost to Finau/Koepka, 1 down
McIlroy/Olesen lost to Johnson/Fowler, 4&2
Casey/Hatton lost to Spieth/Thomas, 1 down
Friday afternoon foursomes
Stenson/Rose beat Johnson/Fowler, 3&2
Poulter/McIlroy beat Watson/Simpson, 4&2
Garcia/Noren beat Mickelson/DeChambeau, 5&4
Molinari/Fleetwood beat Spieth/Thomas, 5&4
Europe 5-3 USA
Saturday morning fourballs
Garcia/McIlroy beat Finau/Koepka, 2&1
Casey/Hatton beat Johnson/Fowler, 3&2
Molinari/Fleetwood beat Woods/Reed, 4&3
Poulter/Rahm lost to Spieth/Thomas, 2&1
Saturday afternoon foursomes
Stenson/Rose beat Johnson/Koepka, 2&1
Garcia/Noren lost to Watson/Simpson, 3&2
Molinari/Fleetwood beat Woods/DeChambeau, 5&4
Poulter/McIlroy lost to Spieth/Thomas, 4&3
Europe 10-6 USA
McIlroy lost to Thomas, 1 down
Casey halved with Koepka
Rose lost to Simpson, 3&2
Rahm beat Woods, 2&1
Fleetwood lost to Finau, 6&4
Poulter beat Johnson, 2 up
Olesen beat Spieth, 5&4
Garcia beat Fowler, 2&1
Molinari beat Mickelson, 4&2
Hatton lost to Reed, 3&2
Stenson beat Watson, 5&4
Noren beat DeChambeau, 1 up
Europe 17.5 - 10.5 USA
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