Tears fall, putts don’t: Europe overmatched at Ryder Cup
SHEBOYGAN (Wis.) — Rory McIlroy was visibly reddening his face and his eyes were filled with tears. This was obvious.
His most difficult week at The Ryder Cup, one of the most difficult weeks in golf, came to an end Sunday. He won a match. It was a bittersweet end, but that would be too generous.
” I’m very disappointed that I haven’t contributed more to the team,” McIlroy stated.
His victory over Xander Schaffele (3-and-2) was his first point in a week that had been almost lost before the 12 singles matches got underway. Europe lost 19-9, the most devastating loss in the current format dating back to 1979..
In the post-defeat dissection, which is sure to follow for a European team who had won nine of the previous 12 meetings, McIlroy’s disappearing act, the cornerstone of their recent success, will be a major talking point.
But Europe has more pressing issues than that. The matchup against the Americans is not looking good for the future.
Europe brought four 40-somethings — Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey and Sergio Garcia — into the match against an America team without a single player that old.
The 40-plus crowd was 5-9 in three days. This mark would have been even worse if Garcia hadn’t been paired with the world No. Jon Rahm won three fourball and foursomes wins to begin the week.
Other jarring figures: Eight American 12 player are in their 20s. 11 were among the highest 20 ranked players in the world.
“There is a lot of talent on that team,” McIlroy stated. They have many young players who are great players and who’ve invested in the Ryder Cup. They’re going to be formidable competition for a long time.”
There’s young talent on Europe’s side as well, and those players have long been sold on the passion of the Ryder Cup. Captain Padraig Harrington stated that “the heart of the team” will continue to be with them for many years.
But, as this week proved, passion, camaraderie, and team chemistry are only enough to get a team far. It is possible that Europe’s younger generation, which includes Viktor Hovland and Tyrell Hatton, continues to improve — and perhaps learns some lessons from this defeat near Lake Michigan.
They might turn to Rahm for assistance. The 26-year-old Spaniard made long putts galore over the first two days. He scored 3 1/2 points and is only months away from winning the U.S. Open. It’s not hard to believe that he has made his mark.
McIlroy is still young at 32, and couldn’t even come close to this week. Former No. The former No. 1 had scored no less than two points in his five previous Ryder Cup appearances. He didn’t make one birdie in his three previous losses at the Ryder Cup.
” No one was more disappointed by the way I played than I,” McIlroy stated. Despite this, Harrington called McIlroy to play in the first match on Sunday. He knew that any miracle would start with McIlroy, who is the four-time major champion and has been Europe’s most steady player over the years. McIlroy won the first hole after he missed a 2-foot birdie shot.
The shot that truly told the story of the Ryder Cup for Europe was at the end.
On the 18th hole of a tied match, Fitzpatrick had a 200-yard approach with a chance to capture a half point that would prevent his team from giving up the 19th and record-setting point to the U.S.
The 27-year-old Englishman hit the ball fat and into the stream fronting the green. He conceded to Daniel Berger a few minutes later and the U.S. celebration grew louder.
As the golfers made their way to the green, the sound system blared the song “We Are the Champions”. McIlroy and Co. were able to offer their congratulations and just watch.
And a little bit of crying.
” “It was a difficult week,” McIlroy stated. “But the more I play in this tournament, the more I realize that it’s the greatest event in golf. It’s a great event. I can’t wait to be a part of many, many more.”
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