Another Ryder Cup, another blowout. That’s three straight that haven’t been tightly contested, the last being the Miracle at Medinah in 2012, a Sunday American golf fans would like scrapped from their memories entirely. Since then? 16.5-11.6, Europe in 2014 at Gleneagles. 17-11, U.S. at Hazeltine in 2016. And Sunday’s 17.5-10.5 drubbing at Le Golf National by Europe. Can we get a little drama, please?
After two years of all the buildup, the anticipation, the predictions, it’s okay to feel a little cheated. The event had its chances to deliver, both on Friday and Sunday, when the U.S. came out strong each morning. But each time Europe had an emphatic answer, ensuring that his thing wouldn’t be close.
If there’s one good thing to come from any Ryder Cup blowout though, it’s the press conferences from both sides. Who could forget Phil Mickelson driving a bus over Tom Watson in Scotland in 2014? Or Danny Willett describing his first Ryder Cup experience at Hazeltine in 2016 with one word: “Shite.” When asked to elaborate, Willett had two words: “Really shite.”
The narrative out there is that in both victory and defeat, the European team is always in top form, while the Americans are on both ends of the emotional spectrum, jubilant in victory and dejected in defeat. This theory was proved correct in Sunday’s aftermath, as the American squad was understandably subdued afterwards and the Europeans let loose, just like they did at Hazeltine even though they lost. Here’s some of the more notable quotes both teams gave in their press conferences.
The American team
Jim Furyk on whether or not his team was prepared for the test that was Le Golf National: “We’re going to get second-guessed and we’re going to get questioned. I realize as a leader of this team and as a captain, the brunt of it is going to be on my plate and I accepted that when I took this role.
“We came over here and played our practice rounds and prepped for this golf course, and I have — I’m going to say it over and over and over again: I have every confidence in these 12 players that you could. I think we have a great team. I would take them right back into another Ryder Cup and play it all over again if I could. You can call me crazy, but I have every belief that these guys could get it done. I still do and I still would again.”
Phil Mickelson on what the Ryder Cup has meant to him, and if this is it: “It’s difficult to talk about it because it means so much to me over the years, and I did not play well this year. This could very well, realistically, be my last one.
“But with these guys, I’m motivated now to work hard, to not go out on this note, and I’m motivated to play well these next two years to get back at Whistling Straits and to show what I can do in these events, because this week was not my best. I was not playing my best, and I spent more time hitting balls throughout the week than I have all year trying to find something that would click, and it’s just been a struggle. The last month has been a struggle, ever since I shot 63 right before being picked, I’ve struggled.”
Tiger Woods on his assessment of the week: “Well, we didn’t — we obviously didn’t win the Cup. We didn’t execute like we had planned and wanted to.
“For me personally, I went 0-4. Obviously very disappointing. Those are four points that aren’t going towards our side. It’s going towards their side. To have a Ryder Cup end that way, for me personally, it doesn’t feel very good because I didn’t help my teammates earn any points.”
Phil Mickelson, who infamously took shots at captain Tom Watson following a U.S. loss in 2014, when asked if this loss was better or worse: “This is an awesome team and we had phenomenal leadership. We had great vice captains. And we were put as players in a position to succeed, and these guys up here are such great players; that if you put these players in a position to succeed, they most often will.
“Unfortunately it didn’t happen this week. But we had a very special week here. We’ll continue to build on it, and improve in a couple of years, and this is a very meaningful, special team for me, personally, too, because our captain is one of, I think, the best people in golf, and somebody that I’ve always looked up to and cherished our friendship. I thought that the way he brought everybody in together on decisions; I think that we — you know, some of you might question some of the decisions, but everything was done with reason, input, thought through, and then it’s up to us to execute, and we just didn’t quite — we didn’t execute.
“And let’s be honest. The European side played some exquisite golf. I mean, it was some phenomenal golf, and they flat-out beat us. But they beat us on the course. I thought that this was really a special week for all of us, and we — there have been two years, this year and 2006 with Tom Lehman, where it breaks my heart a little bit more than others, because those two, we didn’t execute while we were given every opportunity to succeed.”
Justin Thomas on his first Ryder Cup: “It was nerves, experience, atmosphere, unlike anything I’ve ever come close to experiencing in my career, in my life, and two years definitely can’t come quick enough, that’s for sure.”
Tony Finau on his first Ryder Cup: “Just like J.T. mentioned, I haven’t felt nerves and this type of excitement in a golf tournament, ever. And to be able to play on this team, to play with these guys, play under captain Jim Furyk, all guys that I look up to, all guys that I respect, has been nothing short of incredible for me.
“This is not an incredible feeling right now, because we lost. We come here as a team; we win and lose as a team. So the individual accolades don’t mean a lot.”
Jordan Spieth on whether he was surprised he didn’t play with Patrick Reed: “No, we weren’t — we were totally involved with every decision that was made. This was a — Jim allowed it to be a player-friendly environment, and we were involved and we thought that the teams that came out of our, you know, four-man squad, what do we call it, fire team — what is it, Tiger We had two potentially fantastic teams, and we went out and — we went out confidently and tried to play our best.”
Jim Fuyrk’s follow-up to Spieth’s quote about not playing with Reed: “If I may, we put all four of those players out together in practice for most of the week, I think two of the three days. They were always a grouping, and I talked about it in the press room after the first day of pairings; we felt like we’ve got two really good pairings. Jordan and Patrick have been great in the past. I felt like, you know, whether that’s a point of contention or not, I felt like we had two great pairings out of it. So it was totally my decision and my call, and I think I had a few of you tell me that — I think someone used the word, it was a gutsy — they might have said something else, but a gutsy call or a gutsy play, but the one I thought it was the right thing to do. It was my call.”
The European Team
Thomas Bjorn on the whole week: “The hardest thing about the captaincy I think this week was that there’s so many guys playing well, and being in such good frame of mind that I didn’t really — I wanted to get everybody on the golf course, but you can’t.
“Today’s performance, there was a little moment in the middle of it all where I was getting a little bit worried, but then everybody stood up and did their bit. You know, I can’t describe how I feel about these 12. They have been amazing from day one, and I’m just so proud of them.”
Rory McIlroy, calling out Golf.com senior writer Alan Shipnuck for a column he wrote about the U.S. team’s potential to dominate the event for years to come: “I think collectively, we all have one question: Where is Alan Shipnuck?”
Sergio Garcia, chiming in: “I don’t know how good a predictor you are.”
Francesco Molinari on beating Phil Mickelson on the 16th, where Mickelson may have hit his final shot at a Ryder Cup into the water, immediately conceding the match: “Obviously Phil is a class act and he fought hard all match today. Probably didn’t have his A Game this week, but you know, he fought hard. You wish to finish the Ryder Cup holing a putt and making a birdie or stuff like that. But it happens to all of us, and I’m sure it’s not going to affect the other stuff that Phil has done in his career. He’s an amazing player, and it’s one shot, so it doesn’t change anything.”
Sergio Garcia on Molinari’s brilliance this week: “His name is not Molinari anymore. It’s Machinari because he’s a machine.”
“I thought it was Moliwood,” added Molinari.
Sergio and Francesco going back and forth about the 17th and 18th holes:
SG: “Why don’t you ask Francesco how are 17 and 18 playing.
FM: “What holes?”
SG: “You know this golf course has 18 holes.”
FM: “Really? I think I played them on Tuesday.”
SG: “Thank God we played 18 that day”
FM: “Sorry, what was the question?”
Molinari on his career year:“My summer has been great, but it’s been about, like I said before, these guys have been on two winning teams doing a little bit, but not a lot and my record was pretty shocking, really, coming into this week. So statistically, there was a good chance of winning some points, and..
Tommy Fleetwood interjecting: “So arrogant. So arrogant. Get over yourself.”
Justin Rose with an interesting comment on Thomas Bjorn’s captaincy: “Thomas didn’t fill our week with pointless team meetings. He trusted us to be 12 players that would come together, and today trusted us to be 12 individuals, like Rory said, sent a great message earlier, but 12 individuals working towards the same common goal. And that was his strength this week.
“And I think that we didn’t drop our guard all week long. We stayed on point as a group, and everybody, the discipline that we showed got us to this point where we can now let our hair down and now really drop our guard hard.”