USA finishes the task and secures the 41st Ryder Cup at historic Hazeltine National convincingly 17-11 over Europe. For 20 years the United States has bitten the bullet, losing eight of 10, six of the last seven, and three in row.
Ryder Cups calls for special measures. Indeed! U.S. captain Davis Love III, a task force, and team sports psychologist Bob Rotella together were part of the two- year plan, and they all worked carefully with each player and their unique personalities and egos. Apparently it worked.
It also helped to play well and have as vice-captains Bubba Watson, Tiger Woods, Tom Lehman and Steve Stricker. Bam! USA! USA! It also took the largest and most voice-tress crowds in Ryder Cup history, over 50,000 fans each day, some of whom crossed the line of sportsmanship and international goodwill.
European players were subjected to much harsh, dirty American heckling and over-the-barrier taunting. The PGA of America on Sunday, in an unprecedented measure, issued a public zero-tolerance warning for vulgar or profane language directed at players.
Great entertainment and over-consumption of alcohol by some led to over-the-top behavior. On Saturday morning, foursome fans started singing the national anthem in a frenzy during the Patrick Reed-Jordan Spieth match with Sergio Garcia and Rafa Cabrera Bello. Spieth and Reed had their hands over their hearts and a four-hole lead at the time. The irritated Europeans Garcia-Rafa and Bello responded and rallied to square the match.
The hungry, talented Americans started fast on Friday morning, going 4-0 in the four matches. In 12 previous Ryder Cups when the U.S. team led 4-0 after the morning matches, the U.S. had gone on to win the Cup. The last time it happened the late Arnold Palmer was team captain in 1975.
Make that 13-0 now even though the Europeans rallied in the morning and afternoon Saturday matches to tie at 6½ to 6½. The U.S. team led 9½ to 6½ going into Sunday, the 12 singles matches needing just five points to capture the Ryder Cup.
Reed was the United States star; he electrified the crowds; he is 6-1-2 in his career in the Ryder Cup. He led the Americans, going 3-1-1 this week, securing 3½ points and beating Fed-Ex Cup Champion Rory McIlroy Sunday in a great match. They traded punches over 18 holes throwing birdies at each other.
But it was the last U.S. player selected to the team, Davis Love’s captain’s pick Ryan Moore, who rallied to clinch the Ryder Cup, beating Lee Westwood of Europe. “To be able to contribute that last point, it was huge,” said Moore. “It was tough. I thank Davis Love so much for giving me the opportunity. I wanted to be here to do what I could do. I love match play, the environment. I felt like I could help get them some points.”
It was truly a team effort. Every player on the 12-man team contributed at least one point to secure the victory. Veteran Phil Mickelson, who sparked change, played well in his 11th Ryder Cup. Brandt Snedeker and Brooks Koepka were both 3-0. Sunday’s victory was the largest margin of victory for a U.S. team since 1981, when a Dave Marr-captained American team won 18½ to 9½ in England.
“I’m just proud of these guys,” U.S. captain Davis Love III said. “They had a lot of pressure on them for the last two years. I’ve never seen a team come together like a family like this.”
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.