U.S. Ryder troubles: Phil sits out, Tiger shut out
1:16 PM
Art Spander in Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson, Ryder Cup, Tiger Woods, articles, golf

By Art Spander

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France — Phil Mickelson sat out. Tiger Woods was shut out. And so two days into the Ryder Cup, that biennial golfing dilemma, America seems headed for another wipeout.

Phil and Tiger are not entirely to blame for the U.S. falling behind the Europeans, 10-6 — Patrick Reed and Byron DeChambeau also haven’t provided anything but disappointment — but Mickelson and Woods presumably were going to show the young guys how to win. Wrong!

Mickelson and DeChambeau were crushed Friday in foursomes, alternate shot, and Saturday U.S. captain Jim Furyk benched Phil, who in effect then contributed as much to the U.S. score as Woods.

In his three matches, a four-ball Friday with Reed, another four-ball Saturday with Reed and a foursome Saturday with DeChambeau, Tiger didn’t get a point, Of course, Reed and DeChambeau, his partners, are as much a reason.

It’s an old story — and, for America, a sad one. When the Cup is held in Europe, the U.S doesn’t win. Or hasn’t won the last five times. And unless the kids from the U.S. of A. can perform better in Sunday’s 12 singles matches than they have in the team format, the number will increase to six in a row. And if you’re counting, nine of the last 11, home or away.

Europe needs only 4 1/2 points from the 12 singles — a draw gets a half-point, a win a full point — to take the Cup.

American golf just doesn’t travel well. Maybe it’s jet lag. Or the food. Or the clever manner in which the European Tour sets up the course, as it prepared Le Golf National, some 20 miles from Paris, for these matches — narrow fairways and thick rough.

Then again, golf gets down to who makes the putts and, wow, the Euro team of British Open champ Francesco Molinari and U.S. Open runner-up Tommy Fleetwood — “Moliwood,” someone nicknamed them — have been making putts from everywhere. Small wonder they have won all four of their matches, only the second team of same players to win each of its four.

“You have to make birdies,” said Tiger. A week ago he made them to win for the first time in five years, the Tour Championship. He, along with Mickelson and DeChambeau, already had been selected by Furyk as captain’s picks, wild card. And the choices seemed brilliant.

But instead of getting birdies, the Americans are giving explanations.

“The three matches we played,” said Woods about facing Molinari-Fleetwood over the two days, “they never missed a putt inside 12 feet. That’s hard to do. Playing against a team like that, you have to make a lot of birdies, and we didn’t.”

Overseas, the Americans never do. Or haven’t since their last Ryder Cup road victory, 1993.

The Euros seem to draw strength and confidence from the team format. Sergio Garcia couldn’t win a major until last year’s Masters, but he was a terror in the Ryder Cup, a reason this time Euro captain Thomas Bjorn picked him despite playing Garcia having a relatively poor year.

“Everything feels pretty good,” Woods said about his game. “Just really pissed off at the fact I lost three matches and didn’t feel like I played poorly. That’s the frustrating thing about match play. We can play well and nothing can happen.”

You know the gripe: There’s no defense in golf. You can’t do anything to stop an opponent from playing well — shouting on his backswing is not proper etiquette. You just have to play better than he does. The Euros play better than the Americans do. It’s that simple.

“We need every single man on the course to do their bit,” said Bjorn, the Euro captain. “When you look at those 12 American names, that’s a strong lineup.”

Strength isn’t the issue at a Ryder Cup in Europe. Accuracy is required, finesse is required and most importantly a great putting touch is required. Getting to the green is a small factor. Getting into the cup is a big factor.  

Americans Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, both major champions, paired to win both fourballs and foursomes.

“It was great,” said Thomas. “We went out and did what we needed to do in both sessions, not just hit the shots when we needed to but make the putts when we needed to.”

They did. Other American golfers did not.

Article originally appeared on Art Spander (http://artspander.com/).
See website for complete article licensing information.