Furyk on U.S. Ryder Cup shutout: ‘I bet we’ll be fine’
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Art Spander in Jim Furyk, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Ryder Cup, articles, golf

By Art Spander

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France — It was historic. It was embarrassing. The supposedly unbeatable United States Ryder Cup team turned out to be as soft as a croissant.

Not only did it fail to win any of the four afternoon matches Friday on opening day of the 2018 Cup, it couldn’t even come close.

In the alternate-shot format that vexes Americans even more than trying to correctly pronounce “Chantilly” — one golfer hits the tee shot, his partner the next shot — the U.S. couldn’t extend any match beyond the 16th hole.

So Europe, which lost three of the four-ball or better-ball matches in the morning, roared back to take a 5-3 lead and seemed destined to continue America’s frustration each time the biennial event is held on this side of the Atlantic. The U.S. hasn’t won in Europe since 1993.

With fans hooting and chanting as if they were at a soccer match and not a tournament at Le Golf National some 20 miles southwest of the Eiffel Tower, the Euros became the first team ever to record a shutout in alternate-shot, or foursomes, and the first to get a sweep in any session since 1989.

This wasn’t a match, it was a mismatch. It was Alabama against Arkansas State. It was bewildering, mystifying and nonsensical. The pairing of Phil Mickelson, at 48 surely playing his last Ryder Cup, and Bryson DeChambeau, at 25 playing his first, lost seven of the first eight holes, including five in a row to Sergio Garcia and Alex Noren.

On the 10th tee, Mickelson-DeChambeau were 7 down. Or if you want to make a drink of it, Garcia and Noren were 7 up. That Mickelson-DeChambeau lost only 5 and 4 proves something, but what no one is sure.

Mickelson was a captain’s pick by Jim Furyk, who apparently wanted Phil’s experience (this is his 12th Ryder Cup). Well, Mickelson now has a new experience with which he can relate: getting stomped.

Tiger Woods, another Furyk pick, didn’t play the afternoon alternate shots. In the morning, Tiger was paired with Patrick Reed, the Masters champion, and they were flattened by Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari, 3 and 1. A good job selecting by Furyk.

Of course, as the Euro captain Thomas Bjorn reminded, “The players play; we just try to get them ready.”

The U.S. hardly was ready for its collapse, or should it be Europe’s resurgence?

“They played great golf,” said Spieth of Fleetwood and Molinari. “Hats off to the Europeans. They were even or under par (in all four afternoon matches), and on this course, in that wind, that’s just fantastic in this format.”

You might presume that Furyk would be depressed the way his foursomes got whipped, but he carries a golfer’s eternal optimism, the belief that the next round will be, if not near perfect, then at least highly rewarding.

“In match play,” said Furyk, “you lose 6 and 5, you lose 2 and 1, it’s the same result. We have to shore things up. And I’m guessing we’ll switch things in the afternoon (Saturday). We’ve already been thinking about that.

“Does it pose a problem? I think our guys will respond. I really do. I have a lot of confidence in our guys. It’s going to leave a sour taste in their mouths, and they have to sleep on that. We’ll come back. I bet we’ll be fine.”

There are four more four-ball matches and four more foursomes Saturday. On Sunday, there are 12 singles. That used to be where the U.S. could be counted on to dominate, but in the 2012 Cup, in Chicago, it was the Euros who came from behind with victories in singles.

“There will be adjustments,” Spieth said of the alternate-shot session Saturday. “Foursomes, it’s a tough one. You know what team to throw out there.”

On Friday, whatever the team, it appeared to have been thrown under the bus.

“We knew it was going to be a grind,” said Rickie Fowler, who paired with Dustin Johnson was a 3 and 2 loser to Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson. “We struggled to get the momentum going, and when we did it was too late.”

It is no secret that the course was set up for the home team, narrow fairways to negate the power of people such as Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka. But the Americans should have been able to adapt.

“We thought this would be a good format for the tee shots,” said Mickelson, “hitting a bunch of irons off the tee. We just didn’t play our best.”

But the Euros did.

Article originally appeared on Art Spander (http://artspander.com/).
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