Ryder Cup Postmortem: 5 Burning Questions for U.S.

Just last week we polled our Golf Channel Academy lead coaches on whom they thought would win the Ryder Cup, and of those who responded, an overwhelming 83% picked the Americans. Boy were they ever wrong! Not only did the U.S. fall to Europe, but they fell hard, losing 17-1/2—10-1/2 at Le Golf National just outside of Paris. It was Team USA’s second-worst defeat ever across the pond (the U.S. lost to Europe, 18-1/2—9-1/2, at the K Club in 2006), and ensured that they’ll be carrying a 29-year winless drought on European soil with them to Rome in 2022.

In our coaches’ defense, the Americans were heavily favored to win in Paris, despite their lack of success overseas. The U.S. boasted three of this year’s four major winners and six of the last eight—including the most recent Players Championship and Tour Championship winners—and were touted as having their deepest and most talented roster ever. So what happened in Paris? Was it the narrow course setup and penal rough? The breakup of the Jordan Spieth-Patrick Reed dynamic duo? Fatigue from the FedExCup Playoffs and busy August-September PGA Tour slate?

We asked our coaches for their thoughts, and had them answer five burning questions about the present and future of the Americans and the Ryder Cup. Here are the best of their responses.

Question: It’s now six consecutive losses across the pond for the Americans and the last two defeats have been by a combined 12 points! Why is it so difficult for the U.S. to win on foreign soil?

“Not hard to figure out. High rough and narrow fairways took the teeth out of the beast. Couple that with zero chemistry on some of the teams and you have another European blowout!”—Todd Sones

“The golf course was a huge obstacle for the Americans this time around. Rather than taking the “hot hand,” they should look at taking a “horse for the course.” Bomb and gouge didn’t work in Paris and there were no alternatives to substitute a straighter driver of the ball.”—Anders Mattson

 “Every member of Team Europe views the Ryder Cup as a major, and until the American players are all in and treat it like it means something, they’ll continue to get destroyed!”—Craig Bocking

Q: How would you explain the Europeans dominance in foursomes (alternate shot), and what can the U.S. do going forward to be more competitive in that format?

“Europeans have way better chemistry. Their bond as a team is true. The hugs are genuine and meaningful. Twelve men together can’t lose.”—Paul Horton

“It’s a different style of play. I would suggest having more alternate-shot competitions among each other prior to going over there.”—Colby Huffman

“Alternate shot is about making mistakes, dealing with it and moving on. It seems like when the U.S. players make a mistake, they apologize for it and feel bad about it, whereas when the European players have a bad hole or make a mistake, they slap each other on the back and have a good laugh.”—Rob Strano

“The Europeans bring way more passion to the Ryder Cup than the U.S. team. The Americans need to look in the mirror and bring the passion for their country and the purpose they were all brought together for!”—Sean Lanyi

Q: Was U.S. Captain Jim Furyk right to split up Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, and why?

Absolutely! Jordan and Justin have been waiting since they roomed together at the Junior Ryder Cup to take on the main stage.  They played well together and were easily the most fun to watch all week.”—Jason Sedan

 No! They play well together. Why change a good thing? I know that Reed is not the most likable person on Tour but he and Spieth complimented each other well.—Brian Jacobs

 This was one of the strangest decisions of the entire event. When you have a strong winning duo, you don’t split them up! NEVER. EVER.”—Rob Strano

Q: Tiger Woods, arguably the most dominant player in the history of the game, now sports a Ryder Cup record of 13-21-3 after going 0-4 in Paris. How do you explain this and do you think this was his last Ryder Cup?

“Everyone fades in Tiger’s presence. …especially his teammates!”—Jeremy Anderson

 “Tiger’s record isn’t good in the Ryder Cup because everyone wants to beat Tiger. They step up their game. And until he treats the Ryder Cup like it means something, he’ll continue to lose matches.”—Craig Bocking

 “Tiger’s overall record aside, he was exhausted Ryder Cup week. He ran out of gas getting win No. 80 and to fly to France and play in 50-degree temps after playing in 100-degree weather in Atlanta was too much to ask of him and his back.”—Tim Conaway

Q: Let’s say you were the U.S. captain in Rome, Italy, in 2022. What would you do to ensure a blowout like this doesn’t happen again?

“Pick people with no experience in Ryder Cup play and have them vetted statistically for Driving Accuracy, Strokes Gained: Putting and Strokes Gained: Short Game. Stop picking fan favorites.”—Virgil Herring

 “Hit the fairway. Play boring, conservative golf. I’d hold a kangaroo court and have the guys toss in $100 for every fairway they miss. The team’s points leader then gets the pot.”—David Ogrin

 “Have the previous year’s Presidents Cup team play in the Italian Open or go play the course the week of The Open.”—Kenny Nairn

 “Try to play the team competition (four-ball, foursomes) better, and not rely so much on singles to win or make up a deficit. Win the Cup because of unity, focus and fight. Prepare together, play together, win together.”—Garrett Froggatte