Well, the 2018 Ryder Cup looked good for the United States after taking an early lead in the event. That wouldn’t be nearly enough to hold off the talented European squad, who came back to win 17.5-10.5 in dominating fashion over the Americans.
Coming off a Ryder Cup win in 2016, the United States seemed poised to go back-to-back over Europe when they jumped out to a 3-1 lead over Europe early Friday morning fourball groups. The U.S. duos of Tony Finau/Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson/Rickie Fowler, and Justin Thomas/Jordan Spieth had the Americans off to a hot 3-0 start before Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed Fell to Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood, giving the Europeans their first point of the cup.
However, the rest of the Ryder Cup was a slippery slope for the United States, filled with European dominance. They bounced back with a clean sweep in the Friday afternoon foursomes, with the couples of Henrick Stenson/Justin Rose, Ian Poulter/Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia/Alex Noren, and Molinari/Fleetwood all getting wins in their matchups. Despite the rough Friday afternoon for the Americans, they faced only a 2-point deficit at 5-3 and still were in contention for the Ryder Cup.
With the United States still hanging around, the Europeans closed the door on their hopes on Saturday morning in fourballs. Each the Garcia/McIlroy, Tyrrell Hatton/Paul Casey, and (again) Molinari/Fleetwood pairs took wins in consecutive matches, with only American twosome Thomas/Spieth being able to squeeze out a win. After the two teams split in afternoon foursomes the same day, the Europeans held a commanding 10-6 lead over the United States heading into Sunday.
The Americans headed into the final day of the Ryder Cup needing a miracle but didn’t find one. Sunday’s singles matches started off going back and forth, keeping the Americans in contention. Justin Thomas won for the Americans over Rory McIlroy before Brooks Koepka and Paul Casey halved the point. Europe and the United States traded points in the next four matchups, with Webb Simpson and Tony Finau scoring for the Americans, and John Rahm and Ian Poulter getting on the board for the Europeans.
It was match seven, eight, and nine that would close out the Americans in the 2018 Ryder Cup. After the Thorbjorn Oleson win over Jordan Speith and Sergio Garcia doing the same to Rickie Fowler, the Europeans found themselves one point away from revenge for the loss just two years ago. Francesco Molinari put the nail in the coffin and, with a win over Phil Mickelson, made the Europeans the 2018 Ryder Cup winners. The rest of the unneeded matches resulted in a win for the United States’ Patrick Reed and each of Europe’s Henrick Stenson and Alex Noren, making the final score 17.5-10.5 in favor of the Europeans.
What Happened to the American’s After their Opening-Round Lead?
Obviously, the cards did not fall in the United States’ favor. After that early 3-1 lead, the Americans were outscored 16.5 to 7.5, making the defeat look that much worse for the U.S. There are a lot of things that can be attributed to the loss for the United States, but there are three major issues that showed for them in the 2018 Ryder Cup. American Dustin Johnson, who is currently the number one ranked golfer in the entire world, went a dismal 1-3 during the Ryder Cup. While it could’ve been worse for Johnson, the United States really needed him to set the tone and put some points on the board.
The two other issues the U.S. had are actually the same problem, just from different people: Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson’s performances during the event. Each captain picks (meaning they did not play themselves onto the team but were picked for other reasons) for the cup, and both played like they did not deserve to be there. Woods went 0-4 over the weekend and was unable to get anything going, while Mickelson went 0-2 and conceded the winning point to Molinari. Each had bright spots this summer, but the cold hard truth is that neither were fit for this position. American captain Jim Furyk will definitely be criticized for the move. Despite the greatness of the Woods/Mickelson-era of golf, they now are second and first respectively in Ryder Cup losses (21 points lost for Woods, 22 for Mickelson), and those struggles should translate into decisions. Hindsight is always 20/20, but their performances in Paris 2018 could seal their fates to never winning a Ryder Cup.
Looking Ahead to 2020: How Can the U.S. Bounce Back?
All hope is not lost for the Americans, as the event will continue to be played and back on home-turf in 2020. A lot of this American team will probably be repeat members, but Woods and Mickelson are getting up there in age and should let some young-guns step in a represent their country. The United States jumped out to a hot start in 2018, but after a disappointing loss to the Europeans, be ready for major changes in personnel and mindset from the Americans as they look for revenge in the 2020 Ryder Cup.