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Ryder Cup 2018 5 takeaways from the European victory

So if you were lucky enough to have satelite TV, and dedicated enough to stay up late to watch the 42nd Ryder Cup, you would have been impressed with a fortified European team and rather disapointed with an incohesive and quiet team USA. The final scoreline of 17.5 - 10.5 suggests a romp, but there was in the afternoon of the single matches, a glimpse of hope for the Americans. But the barage of superior shot making by the Europeans, and a tight and punishing course in the form of Le Golf National, proved decisive in giving the Europeans victory on home soil.

'Better on Paper'

We had been told by the media that this was the dream team, possibly the best U.S. side ever. But, it seems like some of the American top ranked players' games never made it through customs. World No. 1 Dustin Johnson finished 1-4 for the U.S., winning an opening four-balls match with Rickie Fowler, then losing his next four, including a singles match to Ian Poulter.  But you can remove Justin Thomas (4-1) out of that list. Brooks Koepka was solemn and unenthusiastic (1-2-1), Bryson DeChambeau looked nothing like he had at the end of the season (0-3), Rickie Fowler's usual grit which we had seen in previous Ryder Cups was missing (1-3) as was Jordan Spieth's putting (3-2) in his singles game.

No Tiger's Roar

One of the biggest surprises was Tiger Woods. Or perhaps, it wasnt a suprise, he looked tired. He had just won for the first time in more than five years, a busy season, playing seven tournaments in nine weeks, 18 tournaments plus the Ryder Cup in 2018. He didn’t drive the ball the way he had a week earlier, and he ended up with a record of 0-4, his worst showing in eight Ryder Cups.

“For me, it's been a lot of golf for a short period of time,” he said. “I’ll have a better understanding of what my training needs to be for next year so that I certainly can endure the entire season, because this year was very much up in the air of how much I would play or if I would play at all.”

Lefty: Out of sorts

Mickelson struggled in Paris, his Ryder Cup coming to an end on Sunday afternoon against the in-form Molinari. Perhaps this will be his last Ryder Cup, almost certainly his last as a player- in Europe anyway. This was his 12th U.S. Ryder Cup team, and he was asked what the event has represented to him.

“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,” he said. “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 (the 2020 venue) 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.”

Meet 'Moli-Wood'

Molinari's previous Ryder Cup appearances had been mediocre, having never won, his record was 0-4-2 in two appearnaces. But this week was different, this year he had found something -- a new confidence, The Open Champion teamed with Tommy Fleetwood to go 4-0 in the team session, and became the first European player in history to go 5-0 when he defeated Mickelson.

“I’ve been part of another two winning teams where I didn't bring full points, and I'm glad after I've been carried on the shoulders by some of these guys to give something back,” Molinari said. “But it's about every one of these guys, the vice-captains … it's just the best team I've ever been part of by miles.”

Molinari wasn’t the only history-maker. Sergio Garcia on Sunday established a new record for points won, moving to 25.5 for his career, ahead of Sir Nick Faldo, when he defeated Rickie Fowler in the singles. He improved his record to 22-12-7.

The difference the captain’s picks made

Thomas Bjorn’s four captain’s picks outshined those made by U.S. Captain Jim Furyk at Le Golf. Bjorn opted for experience, choosing Garcia (3-1), Paul Casey (1-1-1), Ian Poulter (2-2) and Henrik Stenson (3-0). Those four were a combined 9-4-1. Furyk mixed experience (Woods and Mickelson) with two rookies (DeChambeau and Tony Finau). Three of his picks (Woods, Mickelson, DeChambeau) failed to collect a point, while Finau finished 2-1. Overall, the four picks were 2-10.

Finau, though the team’s final addition, was a nice surprise, finishing 2-1 and beating the red-hot Tommy Fleetwood in singles, 6&4. Finau made six birdies and not a single bogey in his 14 holes.

“There is pressure here like no other golf tournament we play,” Finau said. “I controlled my nerves pretty well. I know I had the game to do it. If there was any doubt about me being a pick, there shouldn’t be anymore.”

Bjorn was on the hotseat some after the selection of Garcia, who had not been in very good form this season. Garcia missed the cut at all four majors and failed to qualify for the FedEx Cup Playoffs. But once Bjorn called him, he worked hard to be ready.

Garcia was emotional after his singles victory over Fowler.

“Yeah, I don’t usually cry, but I couldn’t help it,” he said. “What a week. It’s been a rough year, but we fought hard. Obviously so thankful for Thomas to pick me, and believe in me, and so happy to get the Cup back here in Paris.”

 

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