As it has for most of the past two decades, the Ryder Cup trophy is in the hands of the Europeans.
It was not exactly David over Goliath, but a less-experienced, yet highly-inspired, European squad asserted their dominance at Le Golf National in Paris on the Ryder Cup stage over the favored American squad, winning seven of the 12 Sunday Singles matches to reclaim the Cup in a 17.5 – 10.5 blowout.
The clinching point came from an appropriate place: European MVP Francesco Molinari, when a dejected Phil Mickelson conceded their match on the par-3 16th hole after knocking his tee shot into the water.
The European team, and their jubilant crowd, erupted into a celebration rarely seen in the sports world, continuing a recently one-sided rivalry when the event is held east of the Atlantic.
The Americans have not won the Ryder Cup on European soil since 1993, the expansion year of the Florida Marlins and the Colorado Rockies, and before the Carolina Panthers or Jacksonville Jaguars even existed.
It is a puzzle the Americans have just not been able to decipher. It was not bad all day for the Americans, however.
Beginning the final day down 10-6, and needing to replicate their remarkable 1999 comeback triumph in Brookline, the U.S. got off to an excellent start when Justin Thomas prevailed 1-up in an emotional battle against European heavyweight Rory McIlroy.
The victory by Thomas – who was easily America’s best player for the week, was followed up by wins from Webb Simpson and Tony Finau, and suddenly, it looked like the Americans might actually have a chance.
However, the thrill was short-lived for the red, white and blue as the Euros were able to regain control, and were nearly flawless in the middle-later matches, winning seven of the final eight matches.
Jordan Spieth had been playing well in the team events, alongside good friend Thomas, but the three-time major winner was obliterated 5&4 by Ryder Cup rookie Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark, which dropped him to a career 0-3 in singles play. World No. 1 Dustin Johnson then lost his match to all-time European Ryder Cup great Ian Poulter.
Tiger Woods, who won the Tour Championship just one week ago, ended an abysmal week by losing to 23-year-old Jon Rahm, one of five European rookies. Sergio Garcia then knocked off Rickie Fowler, followed by Molinari defeating Mickelson.
It was just too much for the American side, and Captain Jim Furyk will now face intense criticism for the choices he made in the uninspired U.S. effort.
One place European captain Thomas Bjorn especially bested Furyk was with his Captain’s picks. Bjorn was questioned by many for seemingly prioritizing experience over recent form with his four selections, but his picks went 9-4-1 for the week while Furyk’s went 2-10-0.
Molinari, whose three victories on the season included the Open Championship in July, went 5-0-0 for the Europeans, showcasing a tee-to-green game that will make him immortal in Ryder Cup lure. His five points led Team Europe, followed by four for Tommy Fleetwood, and three apiece from Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia, with the latter becoming Europe’s all-time points leader.
For the week, the Americans were led by Thomas, who tallied four points for his side. Spieth, who was Thomas’ partner in team events, notched three points to become the only other player on the American side with more than two. Shockingly, the biggest duds for the Americans were Woods and Mickelson, who combined to go 0-6-0.
As accomplished as Tiger and Phil are, it defies belief that the U.S. is 1-7 in Ryder Cups when both are on the squad.
SUNDAY SINGLES RESULTS
Justin Thomas BEAT Rory McIlroy, 1 Up
In the match of the day, Thomas won the first hole, but Rory led most of the front nine. The match stayed all-square for the majority of the back nine, with Thomas prevailing after McIlroy made a huge mess of 18, and conceded to Thomas.
It was a disappointing finish for McIlroy, and certainly will not help his recent reputation of melting on Sundays. Rory went 2-3-0 for the week, while Thomas went 4-1-0 and finished as America’s high scorer.
Paul Casey HALVED Brooks Koepka
Somewhat of a mismatch on paper, as Brooks Koepka will likely be named PGA Tour Player of the Year, while Casey’s game has been in shambles since squandering a large lead at the Travelers Championship in June but Casey, who was a captain’s pick, validated Bjorn’s trust in him by playing the U.S. Open and PGA Championship winner Koepka to a draw.
Neither competitor reached more than a one-hole advantage on the other. This was the only match of the entire week to end in a tie, and both Casey and Koepka finished the event with 1.5 points.
Webb Simpson BEAT Justin Rose, 3 & 2
Rose won the FedExCup Championship a week ago, capping an absolutely stellar 12-month stretch of play, but the World No. 2 only birdied two holes and never held a lead in his match against PLAYERS Champion Simpson.
At 2-1-0, Webb was one of only four Americans to finish the week with a winning record (Thomas, Spieth, Finau).
Jon Rahm BEAT Tiger Woods, 2 & 1
Tiger had his A game in the FedExCup Playoffs, which he finished off with a victory at the Tour Championship, but his Ryder Cup was a complete disaster. By losing to 23-year-old Ryder Cup Rookie, Tiger finished the week 0-4-0, the worst record of any player on either side.
His Ryder Cup record had already been suspect in team play, but his Sunday failure was his first in singles since he was a 21-year-old at the 1997 Ryder Cup.
Not to be overshadowed by Tiger’s troubles, Rahm was excellent in the match, staying composed and displacing a legend that he grew up idolizing. Rahm led for all, but one hole, with the pair being all square after 12.
Tony Finau BEAT Tommy Fleetwood, 6 & 4
Fleetwood had been phenomenal teaming up with Francesco Molinari for the first two days of the Ryder Cup, but he looked lost in singles against American Ryder Cup rookie Finau.
The only American captain’s pick to score any points for his side this week, Finau’s blowout victory ended on the 14th hole, and got the U.S. to within one point of Europe, and represented the last time on Sunday where the Americans had any hope.
Finau went 2-1-0 for the week, while Fleetwood went 4-1-0.
Ian Poulter BEAT Dustin Johnson, 2 Up
An all-time great Ryder Cupper, the 42-year-old Poulter came into the week with a 12-4-2 record, but was fairly average in going 1-2-0 over the first two days of this year’s edition.
However, Poulter looked like peak Poulter on Sunday, showing unmatched passion in displacing World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who had been undefeated in singles in his Ryder Cup career.
Poulter had six birdies on the day, including two in a row on 14 and 15 after Johnson had claimed a 1-up lead on the 12th hole.
Thorbjorn Olesen BEAT Jordan Spieth, 5 & 4
It has been a difficult year for Spieth, who saw a considerable drop-off in his season results and struggled to find consistency with his putter. He looked very good over the first two days of the Ryder Cup, but again came up short in singles, getting annihilated by Ryder Cup rookie Olesen.
Spieth is now 0-3 in singles at the Ryder Cup, and 0-6 in singles in the Ryder and Presidents Cups combined. Olesen won five of the last six holes on the front nine to put an early end to the match.
Sergio Garcia BEAT Rickie Fowler, 2 & 1
After missing the cut at all four majors this season, Sergio was easily Bjorn’s most controversial and most criticized Captain’s selection, but Garcia was among the stars this week, finishing at 3-1-0 after defeating Fowler, who could not seem to keep his ball dry on the back nine.
With the victory, Sergio became the European’s all-time leader in Ryder Cup points.
Francesco Molinari BEAT Phil Mickelson, 4 & 2
Easily the biggest mismatch on paper when Sunday pairings were announced, Molinari had looked nearly unbeatable on the first two days, while Mickelson was in awful form, playing horribly in the recent FedExCup playoffs and looking no better a Friday slaughter while teamed with Bryson DeChambeau.
Molinari’s point against Mickelson was the European clincher, and he is undeniably the No. 1 reason the Ryder Cup Trophy will be in European possession for at least the next 48 months. The Champion Golfer of the year went 5-0-0, tying the all-time record.
Patrick Reed BEAT Tyrrell Hatton, 3 & 2
“Captain America” had not shown his past Ryder Cup form on the first two days, forming a dud pairing with Tiger Woods, twice getting pummeled by the Molinari-Fleetwood tandem. Reed’s Friday performance in morning four-balls was one of the worst by any Ryder Cup player in recent memory.
Reed looked more himself in singles, however, getting hot in the middle of his round and knocking off Ryder Cup rookie Hatton.
Both Reed and Hatton went 1-2-0 on the week, with Hatton being one of just three Europeans to tally a losing record (McIlroy, Rahm).
Henrik Stenson BEAT Bubba Watson, 5 & 4
Stenson came into the Ryder Cup in questionable form, largely due to an elbow injury that was never reported to be completely healed. If it was bothering him, it did not show in Paris, as he went a perfect 3-0-0, and making easy work of Watson on Sunday.
Watson won just a single hole against Stenson, and scored just a single point for the Americans on the week (1-2-0).
Alex Noren BEAT Bryson DeChambeau, 1 Up
The Ryder Cup was long over while Noren and DeChambeau were still on the course, but the match still provided an exciting ending for the Europeans, as he sunk a 40-foot putt on 18 when DeChambeau had a tap-in to halve the match.
Noren went 1-1-0 on the week, while DeChambeau failed to score a single point in his first Ryder Cup appearance (0-2-0).
Bryson, Tiger, and Mickelson, all Captain’s picks, were the only scoreless players on the week.
“VERY PROUD TODAY”
“Well, we’re very proud today, this has been easy, they have been amazing, just the 12 of them has just been unbelievable. The way they bonded with each other, there were things they had done, and how they just get together and do a proper job; they were determined. They just set out to do a job themselves, and I mean, it was an easy job to guide them in that direction.
They wanted this desperately, and they stood up and you know, so many things has happened this week, Francesco and Tommy and Sergio, what he’s about to hopefully do, and there’s so many great things and stories this week. It’s all down to 12 players.”
– Thomas Bjorn, European Ryder Cup Captain