2016 Ryder Cup Studs and Duds

As we recap the exciting 2016 Ryder Cup, the most memorable moments are often individuals’ epic performances. This year was no different and was highlighted by some epic duels during Sunday’s singles play. But rather than looking at a single performance, let’s see who was the best and worst this week as a whole.

Studs

Patrick Reed, USA  (3-1-1)

A lot was expected of Reed after his standout rookie performance at the 2014 Ryder Cup, and he delivered just that and then some at Hazeltine. Reed paired with Jordan Spieth in all of the team matches, racking up 3 wins to 1 loss. Reed’s team play was highlighted by his sparkling play on Saturday afternoon, when he carried a struggling Spieth to victory over the dynamic European pairing of Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose. What will be remembered, though, was Reed’s performance on Sunday. Pitted against the best European and arguably the best player in the world, Reed stared down McIlroy, whom many thought to be unbeatable, and won the pivotal first match of singles play.

Thomas Pieters, Europe (4-1-0)

The 24-year-old Ryder Cup rookie was absolutely spectacular the whole week. His Ryder Cup got off to a rough start after losing his opening session foursomes match, but much of the blame for the loss goes to partner Lee Westwood (more on him later). After that, Pieters paired with McIlroy and showcased his immense talent, hitting clutch shot after clutch shot and leading the pair to 3 straight victories heading into Sunday’s singles matches, where he met J.B. Holmes. Sunday saw Pieters shake off the tough start to take down Holmes 3 & 2. 2016 has been a breakout year for Pieters, and his Ryder Cup performance should propel him into the discussion of the game’s best player under the age of 25.

Brandt Snedeker, USA (3-0-0)

Snedeker knew his job as a member of the US Team was to make putts, and boy did he do just that at Hazeltine. Snedeker paired with Brooks Koepka in team play to roll through the Europeans and did the same on Sunday, repeatedly draining bombs and showing emotion rarely seen from the normally reserved veteran in his 3 & 1 win over the pesky Andy Sullivan.

Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Europe (2-0-1)

Playing with countryman Sergio Garcia to form the “Spanish Armada” during team play, Cabrera-Bello regularly stuck approach shots and rolled in clutch putts to win one of of their matches and halve the other (against Spieth - Reed) before playing spectacularly to take down PGA Champion Jimmy Walker in singles. The only thing that could stop Cabrera-Bello was captain Clarke, who made a questionable decision sitting the hot hand on Saturday afternoon. Cabrera-Bello’s terrific play at Hazeltine just adds to what was a breakthrough season for the 30-year-old, seeing his world ranking climb from 114th to 30th.

Brooks Koepka, USA (3-1-0)

Ryder Cup rookie Koepka was a notable President’s Cup snub in 2015, and he wasted no time showing why he belongs on the elite stage. Koepka was dominant, winning matches 5 & 4, 3 & 2 and 5 & 4, only losing to the tough team of McIlroy and Pieters on Saturday afternoon. Koepka continues to impress and looks to be on his way to becoming one of the game’s true superstars.

Rory McIlroy, Europe (3-2-0)

Despite recording two losses, few players were more impressive than McIlroy at the 2016 Ryder Cup. McIlroy asserted himself as Europe’s leader and was unstoppable when paired with Thomas Pieters during team play. Rory was stellar on Sunday’s front 9, going back and forth with Patrick Reed in an unforgettable showdown, but it looked like Rory ran out of gas on the back-9, falling to Reed 1-down.  Rory’s performance over the past month has been special, reminding the golf world that he has a top level that only a few can reach.

Duds

Lee Westwood, Europe (0-3-0)

One of the most decorated European Ryder Cup players of all time had a rather forgettable week at Hazeltine. The week got off to a brutal start on Friday morning when his miserable all-around play in the foursomes format led to him and red-hot partner Thomas Pieters getting drubbed 5 & 4. After Friday, things got worse for Westwood as he missed a few short pressure putts, handing over a match on Saturday afternoon. On Sunday, Westwood again found himself up late in his singles match against Ryan Moore, holding a 2-up lead with 3 holes to play. Moore surged and Westwood faltered, losing the final 3 holes to Moore, who clinched the U.S.’s victory with the win. Tough week for Lee.

Danny Willett, Europe (0-3-0)

The Masters champion’s week got off to an unfortunate start after his brother’s disparaging remarks about American fans. His brother put a target on Willett’s back, and he couldn’t back it up, getting blown out in 2 of his 3 losses. Willett’s year started off brilliantly after winning his first major championship, but since then the English star’s play has not left much to be desired.

Matt Fitzpatrick, Europe (0-2-0)

It was a tough debut for the youngest participant in this year’s Ryder Cup, Matt Fitzpatrick, who lost both of his matches. Fitzpatrick probably doesn’t deserve all the blame as Captain Darren Clarke opted to sit the future star all of Friday. Fitzpatrick’s talent is undeniable, and despite the disappointing play, we should see much more of the young star in the future.

NBC’s Coverage 

Sunday’s coverage was a day that would seemingly be very hard to mess up, but NBC tried their best to do just that, packing in commercials, montages, and over-dramatized storylines, all of which took away from the golf being played. For the first half of the coverage, it seemed like every 5 minutes of golf was followed by a 3 minute commercial break. All in all, we saw very few tee shots, and many of the biggest moments of the day were on tape delay. Sunday was an extremely poor display from the usually rock-solid NBC telecast team.