Merlot Point

Mercifully for the United States, the 2018 Ryder Cup has come to a close. Team USA lost to Team Europe 17.5 to 10.5 on Sunday, the 3rd worst loss the U.S. team has had since 1979. They have now lost the last 6 Ryder Cups held in Europe with their last victory coming in 1993. Final Scores

What Happened

Let’s call a spade a spade, the United States played very poorly this week. The course exposed their weaknesses, and they didn’t or were unable to adapt. There were definitely questionable decisions made by Jim Furyk, but the bottom line is that they played extremely poorly. Their leaders did not lead, the intensity was lacking overall, and they got blown out to sea.

This is not to take anything away from the performance that the Euros displayed over the weekend. Their roster featured a great mix of veterans and rookies that were able to display strong team chemistry and overcome a 3-1 deficit on Friday morning. Captain Thomas Bjorn took heat for his captain’s picks because of their recent play, but the Europeans understand that the Ryder Cup is a different animal. Their passion rang through Le Golf National, and the final score reflected their fervor for the event.

The Good

European Ryder Cup Passion - The Ryder Cup means more to the Europeans, that is just a fact. From the players to the caddies to the fans, their affection for the event was undeniable. Each made putt elicits strong reactions from their players, and they hold their Ryder Cup records in high regard when it comes to their legacy. The Ole chant will never be as good as the USA chant, but it must be damn fun to be a European Ryder Cup chant.

Justin Thomas - The leadoff man for Team USA on Sunday was the “rookie” Justin Thomas. Before Sunday, JT went 3-1 in team matches with Jordan Spieth, the strong point of the US roster. His match with Rory was not the best golf either of them played, but at the end of the day they were absolutely battling with each other. Thomas brought the most intensity of any U.S. player this week, and it showed in his performance.

Francesco Molinari - Since the BMW PGA Championship this summer, Francesco Molinari has been the best player in the world. His ball striking and consistency were on full display this week as he plowed through the United States (mainly Tiger) to become the first European to ever go 5-0 in the modern Ryder Cup era.

His partner - Teamed with Molinari for each of the first four sessions was Englishman Tommy Fleetwood. It became clear early on Friday that this pair was going to work as they outlasted the eyebrow-raising pair of Tiger and Patrick Reed. They then dusted Spieth and Thomas 5&4, Tiger and Reed 4&3, and Tiger and Bryson 5&4. Fleetwood ran out of gas on Sunday during his match with Tony Finau, but it is clear that he is going to be a part of many Ryder Cups to come.

Webb Simpson - Outside of Justin Thomas, the United States’ best performance came from Webber. He went 2-1 this week and outperformed Europe’s gold standard in Justin Rose in Sunday singles. Many people (myself included) were not excited about the pick of Simpson, but he proved all of us wrong this weekend.

The Bad

Jordan Spieth in singles - 0 and 6. No wins, no halves, just Ls. I don’t know what it is about playing as a single, but he has struggled in every team event of his professional career. He is now 15-4-3 in team play (President’s Cup and Ryder Cup) but has yet to snag a singles victory.

USA Captain’s Picks - Outside of Tony Finau, the U.S. captain’s picks went a combined 0-10. Bryson was tied to Tiger and Phil in both of his team matches, so his performance can’t be fully attributed to himself. Furyk definitely didn’t do them any favors by pairing these struggling players together, but it appears that this was the plan all along.

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson - Yeah, they are listed twice. What the f*** was that performance? Phil legitimately shot well over par each time he was on the course, and Tiger Woods had zero energy all week. I won’t be surprised if it comes out that he was sick or slightly injured because he showed complete disinterest in the event all week long.

Americans criticizing the European Captain’s Picks - Bjorn went with experience in Poulter, Casey, Garcia and Stenson, and boy did it pay off. Current play be damned, he picked the guys who he thought would be the best at the event. They combined to go 8-4-1 and 3-0-1 in singles. Match play is a different animal, the Ryder Cup is a different animal, and these guys proved many critics wrong.

Bubba Watson - The hate towards Bubba Watson is overwhelming at points, but he is just a mess in these team events. He has always been strong in the WGC-Match Play but has no business being a part of the Ryder Cup. His personality puts people off, his game is hard to pair with other guys, and he is now 0-6 in singles. #BoycottBubba

The idea that Le Golf National was a “proper” set up- If you know one thing about The Fried Egg, it’s width and angles. No need to elaborate on the topic, but this golf course sucked. It was manicured to expose the American weakness of being wild off the tee, and it did just that. It allowed for one style of play to succeed. For more on the course, here’s an article Andy wrote on Saturday.

Captain America - Following the post-round press conference, Patrick Reed spoke to Karen Crouse about he and Jordan Spieth’s split as a team. The article includes insights into how Reed viewed the Spieth-Thomas pairing and his displeasure for Furyk’s strategy. Reed told Crouse, “For somebody as successful in the Ryder Cup as I am, I don’t think it’s smart to sit me twice.” Read the full article here.

The Shotgun Start

Brendan and Andy recorded not one but two podcasts, an instant reaction pod to Sunday and a later podcast after all the of the dust had settled.

Pat Reed burns down the USA Ryder Cup house and other reactions from Paris

Brendan and Andy go deep into Patrick Reed’s controversial quotes pointing an angry finger at his teammates and captain. They dissect how he threw multiple people under the bus, from Tiger to Spieth, and if he has a future on these teams. And they get into the role his Reed’s wife's tweets played in the entire mess. Finally, they hand out some Ryder Cup superlatives from the weekend in Paris. Listen on iTunesStitcher or Spotify.

Ryder Cup singles instant reaction

Brendan and Andy get on the horn for a short, insta-react to the Sunday singles blowout by the Europeans, who won the Ryder Cup with 17.5 points to the USA’s piddling 10.5 points. There was a glimmer of hope for the US at one point early on Sunday, but reality quickly arrived and it arrived in the form of more bad American golf. It was a fitting end for Tiger and Phil, and a fitting end to this 2018 edition that saw Europe steamroll since Friday afternoon. They’ll back later Sunday night for a more holistic reaction to the entire week in Paris. Listen on iTunesStitcher or Spotify.

Non-Ryder Cup Quick Hooks

We have a nice three day break before the start of the next PGA Tour season. The Safeway Open kicks off on Thursday.

The UL International Crown starts this week for the LPGA ladies. This team format teams the best players from 8 countries, and they play a team event amongst each other. No captains, just players. It is in South Korea this year, and the fans there will be out in droves.

Justine Reed had to toss her hat in the ring this week, because of course she had to.