I can’t see a thread on this. Is it not such a big thing in the US?
It’s a big thing in my US house… my husband is a huge golf fan.
Let’s just say… he’s not happy.
This makes seven straight non-singles Ryder Cup matches that Tiger has lost. You have to go back to his second match in 2010 (keep in mind he didn’t play in 2014 or 2016) to find a non-singles win.
Actually, seven straight matches, including singles matches.
He was 0-3-1 in 2012, halving his singles match against Molinari, losing his 3 team matches with Stricker
He is 0-3 this week. Losing all his matches against Molinari/Fleetwood.
Spieth/Thomas have won more matches this week than Tiger has since 2006. He didn’t play in 2008 either.
Mickelson has the dubious distinction of having the most losses in US Ryder Cup history, but Tiger is within one loss of tying him. If Tiger loses tomorrow and Mickelson halves or wins his match tomorrow, Tiger ties him.
Mickelson has played 4 more Ryder Cups than Tiger (1995, 2008, 2014, 2016).
Team USA has sucked big time this week. After being superman in 2014 and 2016, Patrick Reed was terrible. #1 DJ has not played well and neither has US Open and PGA Champion Brooks Koepka. Captain Furyk has made some bad decisions.
Oh, damn. Why is he so terrible in team play lately? I mean, I get that opponents aren’t afraid of him anymore and don’t crumble like month-old arare against him like they used to, but this is still, at the absolute minimum, a top-20 player, and he’s coming off a GIGANTIC victory.
The only things I can think of are that the pressure gets to him or he’s no good in team events. The first is a non-starter; no one wins 14 majors and a truckload of second-tier events by succumbing to pressure. As for team play, it’s still one ball and one cup; it’s not like there’s any fundamental difference in the game, like doubles tennis or beach volleyball. Anyway, he’s played enough of these to understand how the team dynamic works.
Has Tiger ever been that good in Ryder Cup play? I don’t even remember him being that dominating in the very few match play events the Tour put on, or when he was an amateur.
Big surprise was that the US actually got a point off of Ian Poulter’s team in one of the matches.
I don’t think the US will come from behind in a few hours, but I do hope they at least make it interesting.
And that’s the ballgame.
Well, it was interesting around the point where the score was 10.5-9.5 Europe. At least Patrick Reed finally showed up.
EDIT: This has the makings of a royal ass-kicking. At this point, if all of the match standings held, it’d be 17-11 Europe. Way to make up ground on that last day USA.
How about those European rookies! A big help playing on a course they are familiar with but still, got to hand it to them, they and most of the Europeans simply outplayed the USA.
I didn’t even bother to watch today, given that the result was an (almost) foregone conclusion.
Watching Friday and Saturday, I saw enough examples of a continued problem with the American side over the years: they act like they’ve never played better-ball format (let alone alternating shot). I mean, every hacker in existence has played better-ball matches at some point, and knows the proper mechanics for determining how to maximize your result. Not the Americans, apparently.
Ehh. 10-6 wasn’t that unbeatable. Especially when it got to 10-9 and a lot of US players were up. It’s just that they opened a big can of quit when adversity hit. Tiger, Dustin, Phil; hell, pretty much everyone except Patrick Reed late, acted like they had a plane to catch when the EU went up 12.5. Blah, blah, the courses in Europe are narrow, blah, blah. It’s just disappointing.
I was interested Friday, when the US was up 3-1 early, and then they lost momentum. For what reason, I couldn’t tell you. It’s weird, on paper the US golfers are ahead of the EU guys. Maybe not head and shoulders, but Spieth, Watson, Koepka, Woods, et al, are pretty damn good golfers. Just not in Europe for the Ryder Cup.
One interesting stat mentioned this morning was that the captain’s pick for the Europeans were bringing in 9 points, for USA? 2.
But yes, overall that was a solid walloping over the three days.
Ultimately it has to be down to team dynamics - there can be no other way that 3-1 USA turned in to 5-3 Europe on day 1. After that, Europe always managed to keep momentum. But how did they swing it round in the first place?
I think it’s particularly odd given the USA is just one country, while the European team is not, and no-one does patriotism better than Americans, in my view.
According to the experts on BBC Radio 5 Live, there were some specific things the US could have done differently. I don’t think Furyk can be criticised for picking Woods, despite the fact he didn’t perform in the event. Woods clearly deserved to be in the team based on his form this season, it wasn’t a sentimental pick or one based on past glories. The theory seems to be that his Tour Championship win took a lot out of him and he was simply tired.
Mickelson was a different matter. One of the analysts said that it probably wasn’t possible for Furyk not to pick him. But it was possible for Phil to say to him “don’t pick me, I’m not up to it” - as Sergio did in 2010. Phil being Phil, though, that obviously didn’t happen. Fellow pro Ollie Wilson summed it up: “he likes to make things about him”. This seems to give credence to earlier threads on this board alleging Phil is rather egocentric and not well-liked on tour.
I also heard criticism that much of the US team missed an opportunity to get to know the course by playing in the French Open earlier in the year. There were even accusations that they didn’t bother with many practice rounds and expected to be able to just play their normal game and bully the course into submission. I have to say that (as a non-golfer, so I’m obviously way off-base here) it didn’t look to me like a particularly tough course - OK, there was a lot of water, and the rough was nasty, but I don’t think the fairway was that narrow, and the greens are huge - seems you have to misjudge it quite badly to go in the water.
Bottom line is that the Americans did not play to their potential and there were probably a few things they could have done to improve. I did think all of them were extremely gracious in defeat, in the face of what I thought was an unnecessarily aggressive crowd. Fair enough for them to make noise when the players are encouraging them, but cheering when the opposition hit a ball into the water or missed a putt seems very unsportsmanlike to me. Cheer your own side by all means, but no need to denigrate the opposition. I think the Europeans will be quite annoyed by that sort of thing in 2 years’ time, but I assume it’s been a feature of several Ryder Cups now.
Good analysis Dead Cat, but that doesn’t explain why Europe has won something like 9 out of the last 12 events.
What are peoples’ thoughts on that? My assumption is that in most years, according to world ranking, the US greatly exceeds Europe. What factors would cause a statistical favorite to consistently underperform?
Are Americans too much of individualists? Do they just not care as much? Are they mentally/emotionally fatigued after the preceding end of the season? Is there something about the US competition schedule/courses/whatever compared to Europe (tho most of the Europeans spend considerable time on the US tour, and - at least 1/2 of the time, courses are set up per US standards)? (Or, flip those to describe Europeans favorably, and ask if the Europeans care more…)
Probably tough to come up with any close analogue, but can you think of any other situation in which a clear statistical favorite consistently underperformed as badly?
And don’t put too much on Tiger. He didn’t singlehandedly lose this tourney, same as he couldn’t singlehandedly win it. It was a group effort.
On edit - I didn’t watch any of the event. But I’ve long questioned why golf fans should be held to a different standard than other sports, or why golfers act as tho they will be thrown by a simple camera click…
BBC analysis summarised by me, but thank you :).
You pose an interesting question and I am equally puzzled as you. Golf is a fundamentally individual game (even more so than most other sports, since it’s you vs the course) and there is no reason Americans should be more individual than Europeans. Ian Poulter is about as individual as they come and he consistently outperforms massively in Ryder Cups. Isn’t the European season pretty similar to the US one, so fatigue should be about equal (and there are golf tournaments almost all year round in any case)? The style of course should more or less alternate between hostings of the event, so if that were crucial Europe would never win in the US. The Americans get exposure to links golf at The Open every year and more is available if they want it.
Regarding golf fans being held to a different standard - I don’t think they are. Tennis crowds are still exhorted to stay quiet before the serve and largely avoid cheering while a point is in progress, though not so much in particularly dramatic matches. Snooker commands silence from the audience, you can be ejected for your mobile device beeping. Rugby asks that you ‘respect the kicker’ by not booing or catcalling during the run-up for a place-kick, and this is largely observed by crowds. Only in football (soccer) is it widely accepted that booing and heckling an opposition player just before they take a kick is part of the game. What all these situations have in common is the player is focusing on a still ball (even the tennis serve, since the ball will have 0 velocity at the top of its arc when tossed up). When the ball is moving, a sudden noise is much less likely to be a distraction for some reason (perhaps because different parts of the brain are used, but I’m in way over my head here). Even in darts, which has probably one of the most raucous audiences of any sport, the crowd will sometimes be admonished for calling out while a player is throwing, and players might stop until a more acceptable noise level is reached before taking their turn.
I don’t want to be an old fuddy-duddy, I’m all for cheering your team but shouting out at the top of a player’s backswing will take them out of the moment just as they are trying to focus on the ball, and it’s just not right. To be fair, I didn’t see or hear any of that at this event, but it seems a short step away from here.
It is a team game, sport is littered with examples of where a team becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Although the other team members can’t always directly affect the physical execution of a team-mates play they can certainly affect the atmosphere which in turn can affect the mental processes involved in what is…we all know…a mentally demanding game. It perhaps can’t turn round a bad day today but it can help clear the mind, put an arm round the shoulder or kick up the arse in order for you to mentally switch on tomorrow.
I think all the players were coming from the top 50 players in the world and for a single, one-off tournament of unusual structure the actual rankings are pretty much irrelevant. At that level any one of them can shine or bomb from week to week and far more important is the team mentality that creates mutual support, cushions the lows and moderates or amplifies the highs as required.
Overall, that “team mentality” aspect of the game seems to be something that the Europeans do far better than the USA.
Actually, I checked and the rankings were not as skewed as I had suspected.
Per the world golf rankings, The US had 6 of the top 10, and Europe 4.
The US edge extended among players ranked 11-20, with 5, and Europe only 3.
So in players ranked 1-20, US led 11 to 7.
US had only 1 player ranked from 21-30 - their lowest ranked player at 24.
Europe had 3 players ranked in the 20s, as well as a 34 and 44.
I would imagine the statistical analysis would be that - yes - the top players are sufficiently similar that on any given day, number #44 (Thorbsen Olesen) could beat #1 (DJ). Just seems that there must be intangibles to support such apparent overachievement in a multi-day event, and from year-to-year.
The US’s historic underperformance has caused me to cease rooting for them as a team. Really sucks to have your team lose to an apparent underdog.
I don’t really think the European team was ever really much of an underdog outside of the bald ranking figures, but as you say even those were not very far apart. The course was in their favour, the crowd was in their favour. I had them down as slight favourites but wouldn’t have been surprised by a narrow USA win either.
Also, though Woods and Mickleson look like no-brainer picks I rather suspect that neither is particularly good for team morale and both have losing career records in the Ryder cup.
Once they were down as captain’s picks that immediately made me think a USA victory was less likely. Looks to me like they were picked on reputations built on tour and their negative impact on past teams was ignored. On the European side you had Poulter and Garcia picked by Bjorn as the closest equivalents to Woods and Mickleson but in sharp contrast their reputation is all about Ryder cup success and both have much, much better records than the other two.
Plus Their team-mates actually seem to like playing with them.
I thought Lefty an odd pick, mainly b/c he had a less than stellar year. Add in his Cup record, and I would have left him off in favor of some young gun. Maybe let Shauffle a chance to show what he can do.
I’ve never been quiet about my dislike for Tiger, but he sure seemed hotter than anyone at the end of the season. (But I suppose that was after he was chosen?) Maybe he gave all he had. And considering his past Cup performance, maybe he just doesn’t care much about the Cup (tho I believe he claims he does.)
Here are some thoughts on why the USA has trouble under the current format (beginning in 1979):
- We are never the underdog.
Underdogs have an emotional advantage. We talk about this all the time in other sports. Everyone wants to beat the <fill in the blank with a dominant team>. They up their game to take them on. Next week, against decidedly lesser quality opposition, not so much. The statistics about who is better don’t really change much each time the Ryder Cup is played; the Americans are always ranked better, as the Europeans don’t have as much depth. It helps that the Ryder Cup puts the Europeans together, as they then have a shared identity; by comparison, note the much poorer result by the “International” squads in the Presidents Cup.
- The USA gets fired up in front of home crowds only.
We are a “patriotic” bunch of people. Our golfers (many of them) are no exception. When performing in front of Americans on home soil, you can see many of the US golfers get quite pumped. Think “Captain America”, otherwise known as “that annoying Patrick Reed guy”.
But when we go abroad, we don’t have that same ability to feed off the crowds. Europe, by contrast, seems to get energized by being in America, being booed, being heckled. That’s why they’ve come over and snatched 4 of the 10 played here under the current format (and 4 of 8 since they announced in 1985 their actual arrival as true rivals at The Belfry). By comparison, we’ve only won in Europe 2 of 10, and the first of those in 1981 was against the old, not-read-for-prime-time European squad.
So while we dazzled on the final day at Brookline to come from 6 - 10 behind, you just didn’t see us doing the same one European soil. Compare the Europeans, who came from 6 - 10 behind at Medinah, snatching a monstrously famous win in front of VERY partisan Chicago crowds. It’s like our boys need the reminder from the lusty-throated roars of the home crowds to remind them that there’s something really important going on, and it’s time to bring the “A” game.
- We have too many Jacks, and not enough Arnies.
One of the apparent qualities of top-level American golfers is that a lot of them ascribe to the Jack Nicklaus approach to golf. I was a Jack fan growing up, never an Arnie fan. But my biggest complaint about Nicklaus was that he treated the game with WAAAAY too much cerebralism. He could put on a charge with anyone. But you never, ever (not even in 1986 at Augusta) got the sense that he was ever going to just “grip it and rip it.” Contrast Arnie and his swaggering, let-it-all-out approach to playing, which no doubt cost him some victories, but I believe won him a few that a more cerebral approach would have lost (see: 1960 US Open at Cherry Hills). When you’re all focused on the minute details of the game (which way is that particular blade of grass lying?), it’s really, really hard to get emotionally charged up. We’ve seen that with Tiger over the last few years; he just doesn’t play like the guy who won at Torrey Pines in 2008 by channeling his inner tiger.
I watched too many of our guys this year play with that inner reserve, regardless of being up or down. DJ and Rickie were two examples of that. Much as I dislike Patrick Reed and his mouth (see: today’s story about his complaints regarding Spieth and Furyk), the guy plays with his heart. His emotions are on the sleeve. And it’s no shock that he’s called Captain America, based upon his past performances. Even if he himself doesn’t come through, his demeanor pumps up the band. (NB: he was pretty bad in his two appearances with Tiger this year, but maybe that’s an indication he needs to feel like his emotion is firing up his partner?)
- The US players don’t know how to play team and match-play golf.
I won’t elaborate too much on this. I’ve mentioned it before. For whatever reason, you see American players do really, really dumb things when playing in team format. I saw a hole (15?) on Saturday, during the four-ball (what we would call better-ball), where Tiger was in the left rough on a water hole late in the round, with little chance of getting the ball home in two. It was imperative that the US win the hole (as they were, I think, 3 down with four to play). But Reed, needing to just be on the green anywhere, tried to hit it close and put it in the water short. That’s like the stupidest shot in the world to try. If he wanted to try that, he should have had Tiger hit his shot first, and seen if Tiger could get it on, green-lighting him for an attempt at the flag. ANY set of Saturday duffers playing a better-ball Nassau format knows that.
If you’re not going to play smart match-play golf, you’re gonna have trouble.
I would like to point out for Dead Cat that a) that was a VERY nasty course setup, and b) big greens don’t protect from water balls, because they put the flag near the water and then dare you to try and hit it close. Especially in better-ball play, someone usually needs to try and make a close shot; for the pros, as a twosome, you’d expect to be at least 5 or 6 under on an average day. The fairways were not that wide, as evidenced by the fact that you saw a lot of drives hit into the rough by both teams.
Great post, thank you.