It wasn’t even close. It was over by the end of the first day, Team Europe manhandled the USA taking a 5 point lead, which they would never relinquish. Europe routed the US team in one of the most savage beatings since the Lions devoured the Christians in the Roman Coliseum in the first century AD. Only this time the venue was the Marcus Simone golf club. The matches were essentially over after the first day’s morning sessions of fourball as Europe won all four matches. At the end of day one, the matches stood as Europe 6 1/2 to the USA 1 1/2. These matches evoke the same memories from the past 30 years as the USA has not been able to win on foreign soil since 1993 at the Belfry in the UK. In this event, there will be countless reasons why Europe beat up on the Americans and all of them will be correct since the result was so resounding as to make the matches almost non competitive.
The Europe side continues to be more interested in this competition and went so far as to dedicate and add a 13th player to its squad-Seve Ballesteros. Seve was the catalyst and leader in his day for igniting the European side to win these matches and provide the leadership and charisma to foster Europe’s superiority in these matches. Seve’s intensity and spirit carried over to these players and provided a unifying force and focus that is rarely possible in getting a 12 man team organized for competition. In 2023, you can add a number of factors as to why Europe was going to be dominant in this event after being waxed themselves in the prior matches by the Americans at Whistling Straits in 2021.
Some of these factors were:
The European players were all playing well coming into the event and kept competing in tournament play right up to the event. All 12 European players competed in the BMW Championship at Wentworth, a week before the war in the Coliseum. (Marco Simone Golf Club)
Viktor Hovland won the US Fed Ex Tour Championship at East Lake.
Rory McIlroy had a terrific year and the Ryder Cup is very important to him. He felt that he had let Team Europe down in Whistling Straits in 2021 and was determined to reverse the result. Only Patrick Cantlay’s remarkable performance on Saturday afternoon prevented McIlroy from being perfect in these matches.
Tommy Fleetwood had also played well all year and was destined to make some noise in this event and he closed out the Americans in the singles on Sunday afternoon.
The partisan crowd and the golf course setup gives the home team a significant advantage that can only be neutralized by having the USA roll out to a early lead to negate these advantages. The exact opposite occurred as the USA was routed in the first session to a point of no return. The USA’s performance in the first morning session enabled the home course advantage to exacerbate to a crescendo where the American squad could provide no answers to reverse the situation.
While all of the LIV players were ineligible to play in the event except for Brooks Koepka, the USA squad suffered the worst of not having some of those guys to play here. Dustin Johnson is an experienced, successful Ryder Cupper but didn’t perform well enough in the major championships to earn a spot on Team USA. Bryson DeChambeau has been playing very well recently on the LIV tour and would have brought some significant spirit to the USA squad. Patrick Reed, who took down Rory McIlroy at Whistling Straits in 2021 was another spark that couldn’t be lit. The Europeans could also claim some losses such as Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood but those guys would have added experience but not momentum for the European side. In my opinion, the US squad could have been better but I don’t believe the outcome would have been any different.
The most valuable American players in the event turned out to be Patrick Cantlay and Max Homa. World No. 1, Scottie Schleffer was shut out and played reasonably well tee to green but the putts didn’t fall and Schleffer continues to be criticized for his putting. Cantlay provided a glimmer of hope for the USA squad with three consecutive birdies in the Saturday afternoon foursomes. Down by 2 with 3 holes to play, Cantlay refused to yield to McIlroy and made 3 consecutive birdies to win the match and win the afternoon competition 3-1. Cantlay’s victory gave the USA a glimmer of hope going into Sunday but the Europeans extinguished that opportunity relatively quickly particularly with McIlroy stomping Sam Burns.
The excuses will keep coming and the deafening fodder of cliches will fill the airwaves from the Golf Channel and the rest of the media. Zack Johnson will not get another shot at the US captaincy. It’s clear he didn’t understand the enormity of the challenge and what was necessary to get this team ready to play in a hostile environment. It’s easy to criticize Johnson for a number of things but the accountability buck stops at the captaincy. The USA still doesn’t understand how to play fourball and foursomes and the record is so one-sided that the statistics become meaningless.
By the way, to add insult to injury, I thought the Ryder Cup clothing designs for the players were the worst I’ve ever seen in the event. I wouldn’t be caught dead in any of this garb on the course or anywhere else.
The Ryder Cup
The Ryder Cup competition has become a boring event to watch and does not portray the spirit of golf that Samuel Ryder had intended. It has become the WWE,MMA version of golf at its lowest level so rife with cliches that the only way to watch it on TV is to hit the Mute button. I’ve had enough Ole’s to fill a lifetime and the coverage of the event provokes the most inane discussions of play that you will ever hear. There were enough “huge” putts to fill a giant Floridian sinkhole. “The American Squad” are a fabulous bunch of players with outstanding capability, ” but we beat their a…..” You have to respect how good those players are but ……(not really). Our team is really unified (Europe) or I love these guys (USA). The tripe goes on and on and the only solace is to hit the Mute button.
My sensation is the only way to revive the spirit of Samuel Ryder’s concept is to adopt a structure where the matches would have a permanent home on each continent. I would nominate Augusta National for the US site and the Old Course at St. Andrews for the European site. I would limit attendance to 10,000/day and stop the sale of alcoholic beverages completely and neutralize all of the jingoism that this event has generated. Of course, something like this scenario will never happen because it will deprive the PGA of its most valuable commodity–money-which is the scourge of professional golf. I would pay the players handsomely for making the team and generating the proper motivation for winning and competing at golf’s highest level.