Sympatico: Why the Euros Won

Instead of writing the news (does anyone not know the Euros won today), I attempted an analysis of why they won. The resulting column is up at Sympatico, along with a post on Terry Matthews’ role at the Ryder Cup and five courses worth playing in Wales.

Here’s a taste:

On paper it looked like a the Americans should simply overpower their lighter-hitting European counterparts.

The U.S. team that went to Wales was full of big hitters – Watson, Mickelson, Woods, Overton, Johnson – but the team that prevailed was the one that found fairways and greens. It may have come down to the 17th hole of the final singles match, but the truth is only a last-minute surge by the Americans made this Ryder Cup a contest.

It could be summed up best by a tearful Hunter Mahan, who lost the final match for the winning point to Irishman Graeme McDowell on the 17th hole after he flubbed a chip.
“[McDowell] played great today, didn’t miss a shot,” said Mahan, tearing up. “He hit a bunch of key putts. That birdie on 16, after I got it to one down, was huge. He just beat me today.”
The numbers suggest the Ryder Cup was very close, but the truth is that – as Mahan said in reference to McDowell – the European team just beat the Americans. For three days they outplayed the U.S. team, though they came close to giving away that advantage in singles play, which was held over to Monday because of rainy weather.
Several Euro players – Martin Kaymer, Francesco Molinari, Padraig Harrington – got smoked on the final day, making the tournament appear closer than it was outside of the singles matches. The apparent American advantage of length was completely overwhelmed by pesky short hitters – think Luke Donald or Ian Poulter – who found fairways and greens, and then put their putters to work.
With that in mind, let’s look at the pars and bogeys for now defeated U.S. Captain Corey Pavin and European leader Colin Montgomery, who adds this victory to a stellar Ryder Cup record.

The rest of the column is here.

My Wales’ golf story can be found on Sympatico’s golf page, as can the story on Terry Matthews.

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Jeff Lancaster

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Robert, do the USA players like playing the Ryder/President Cup every year whilst Europe and the World teams only play every alternate year? Is there any thought of a Europe vs World match every third year giving each team one year’s rest in a 3 year rotation?

  • Bruce: Given the international state of the game, I think the Ryder Cup is a bit of an anachronism. Why not have three teams — US, Euros, International — and have the winner play — even if they did it every year? I suspect the biggest issue is $$$ and that prevents anything from changing. That said, the Ryder Cup was once just the US vs. Great Britain, and that’s changed.

  • Robert:

    You must have been watching a dfferent program than me. I saw a Ryder Cup, where after two days, the USA was leading, the Europeans completly dominated the third day (Sat/Sun) with a 5 1/2 to 1/2 advantage. Then a fourth day, Monday, singles play, where if Stewart Cink had made two rather easy putts in the last four holes, the USA would have won and you would not even have been writing his column.

    That is how I saw it all. I will say when singles play started I envisioned a 15-11 win for the Euros but the USA made a day of it, would have loved to see the Mahan match go to the 18th though, both because I love the hole and for the excitement.

    Wally Kemp

  • Wally I feel the same way – I think in the end it came down to putting (as it often does). Luke Donald was dropping putts during the singles at every key point, McDowell made that great putt on 16…cink missed a couple that would have given him a chance to win the match. Outside of Rory’s fine display on the last few holes the Americans didn’t make many putts. Too bad Mahan flubbed that pitch on 17 , I would have liked to see McDowell have to hit his putt to close it out.

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