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This is why the U.S. team can’t win a Ryder Cup on the road

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The inquest has begun after the U.S. team was trounced by the Europeans at Le Golf National to lose their grip on the Ryder Cup. Many are pointing the finger at the lack of desire shown by the group of players involved, while others have questioned Captain Furyk’s strategic decisions throughout the week at Le Golf National. Some are also laying the blame at the team dynamic, which does indeed look far more distant than the tight-knit group of players that Team Europe possesses.

But just how does a more talented group of players get thumped so convincingly by a less accomplished team? Well, the insular culture of the United States is as important a factor as any.

As far as myths go, the rumors that have circulated across Europe throughout the years over what percentage of United States citizens hold passports is a pretty good one. The number that broadcast was always so far under the actual reality, and it is now common knowledge that more Americans hold passports today than at any other time in their history. Still, the myth was evidence of how the rest of the world saw the United States as living inside its little bubble. While the insistence on declaring the winners of the Super Bowl and World Series as World Champions, despite both competitions only possessing sides from the United States, is another detail that supports the rest of the world’s view that the United States is an inward-looking country.

How does this insular culture pertain to this year’s failure at the Ryder Cup?

Well, earlier this year, The French Open was held at Le Golf National. A perfect opportunity for Team USA’s 12 members to play the course in tournament conditions, an experience that would undoubtedly have helped them when they arrived to do battle against Europe in September. How many of the 12 players turned up? One. Just one solitary member decided it was worth the effort to get on a plane, travel across the Atlantic ocean and spend a week in Paris getting accustomed to Le Golf National in championship conditions. That man was Justin Thomas, and funnily enough, he was the USA’s best performer over the three days of action in Paris, collecting four points for his country.

I can hear the counter-argument being something similar to: “You can’t expect elite PGA Tour professionals to sacrifice the significantly greater earning power on the PGA Tour to play more events in Europe.” I’m not expecting that at all. But there can be no arguing that the French Open at the end of June was the perfect opportunity for the United States to lessen the distinct advantage that the Europeans would have at Le Golf National, and they didn’t take it. The PGA Tour event on that same week was the Quicken Loans National. How many of the U.S. side played in that event? Just the two, Rickie Fowler and Tiger Woods, meaning nine of the U.S. 2018 Ryder Cup side took the week off instead of being pro-active like their teammate Justin Thomas, who deserves a lot of credit for both his preparation and performance at Le Golf National.

Do the United States players care enough? 

I believe they do. We saw incredible passion from the side at Hazeltine two years ago on their way to a spectacular victory. We didn’t see a fraction of that emotion at Le Golf National because they were exposed on the course, and as a result, it drained their confidence. They did not have a clue how to play the golf course. They were away from their happy place of playing target golf on courses in the United States where rough is barely even a factor. The difference in performance by U.S. players on tracks on the PGA Tour compared to their showing on courses like Le Golf National has become comparable to U.S. tennis players ability to perform on hard courts in their own country and their struggles on the European clay courts throughout history.

Jim Furyk is not at fault for this lack of ability of his players to perform on golf courses that require thought, strategy and execution. However, we have Patrick Reed, one of the nine team members sitting at home when the French Open was being played, criticising his captain for not playing himself more, citing his past Ryder Cup record as the reason he should have seen more action. Well, Patrick, you were fortunate to see three sessions. On Saturday morning you produced one of the worst Ryder Cup performances in history, knocking the ball twice in the water and once out of bounds from tee shots in the first few holes. You seemed to have improved a little by Sunday afternoon, an improvement that may have been fast-tracked had you taken the effort to board a plane in late June and get yourself accustomed to Le Golf National in preparation for the Ryder Cup.

What’s next for Team USA?

The U.S. will reclaim the Ryder Cup in 2020. They are a more talented group on golf courses where they are comfortable. They will then go to Rome in 2022, where it will have been 31 years since they last defeated Europe away from home. U.S. fans should be hoping by the time that event rolls around, more players decide to show the attitude and mindset of Justin Thomas, as until the U.S. team loses its fear of getting out of their comfort zone, they will continue to fail on the road at the Ryder Cup.

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Gianni is a freelance writer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts as well as a Diploma in Sports Journalism. He can be contacted at gmagliocco@outlook.com. Follow him on Twitter @giancarlomag

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Glftips

    Oct 2, 2018 at 11:32 am

    I agree with the take on Americans lack of preparation and the pettiness of Reed. The Americans did not adjust to the narrow fairways and slow greens while the Euro’s were in their element. As for being insular in regard to major sports..could and country field a team that could win or compete for a Super Bowl, World Series or NBA Championship?

  2. William Davis

    Oct 2, 2018 at 10:45 am

    Perhaps there was a degree of arrogance with the US players. Believe they are best in the world and only need to turn up to win. When it was all over they looked bemused and forlorn. Hopefully, a lesson learnt, albeit, the hard way.

    • Scott

      Oct 2, 2018 at 5:35 pm

      They get taught this lesson just about every 4 years

  3. RyderStop

    Oct 2, 2018 at 7:07 am

    hit the fairway, hit the green….make allot of pars. Thats the formula, it was a US open type setup. U.S. refused to play it as such

  4. Ulf

    Oct 2, 2018 at 1:30 am

    Seeing the percieved superiority of the American players comes from playing mostly on courses that demand little more than driving the ball as far as possible, then hit a wedge into the green while they failed miserably on course that could, based on your description, be seen as a more complete test of golf – are you absolutely sure the Americans are the more talented team?

  5. buddy6713

    Oct 1, 2018 at 8:20 pm

    Well reasoned opinion and I agree with all the conclusions you reach. Want to add one more factor to the mix, the difference between the generally self effacing, jovial, mostly relaxed camaraderie that exists not just in the European Ryder Cup team but the fabric of the dominant UK region and the Euro Tour. There’s just a huge difference in the lifestyle of the two cultures. To say that kind of difference is meaningless when it comes to executing shots and playing at the level one is accustomed is to say that only Xs and Os count on the basketball court not the crowd the familiarity with the arena, etc.

    It’s kind of all connected, isn’t it?

  6. rex235

    Oct 1, 2018 at 6:35 pm

    It’s the curse of Seve!

    Better yet, maybe the Curse of Larry Nelson.

    Who was Larry Nelson? The guy who started learning the game at 21, and by 31 was a PGA Winner.

    Three Majors, (US Open and 2 PGAs), 5-0-0 in Ryder Cup play, even beating Seve Ballesteros, but-

    Was overlooked by the PGA of America for US Ryder Cup Captain in ’97 in Spain against Seve.

    At the time, the PGA quote against Nelson was- “HE WASN’T FAMILIAR ENOUGH WITH THE PLAYERS.”

    Been 25 years since the US Ryder Cup team won in Europe. The next European Ryder Cup location?

    Italy. Home of Open Champion Francesco Molinari, who went 5-0-0 this year.

    Good Luck at Whistling Straits in 2020.

  7. BennyHogan

    Oct 1, 2018 at 3:38 pm

    Ryder Cup has a long and storied tradition so it is might be overcommercialized, but the history makes it what it is and tradition is everthing to golf IMO.

  8. Progolfer

    Oct 1, 2018 at 3:30 pm

    The U.S. lost because they couldn’t play the golf course. They were too errant for Le Golf National. That’s it. It has nothing to do with team chemistry etc. At the end of the day, it comes down to the individual doing his job, and the Americans didn’t.

  9. Tom

    Oct 1, 2018 at 3:08 pm

    Yawn, the Ryder Cup is an over-hyped exhibition that makes TV networks and the PGA a pile of money…..nothing more

    • Jesse

      Oct 1, 2018 at 4:42 pm

      As opposed to every other tournament? That’s what televised sports is… Stop trolling…

    • Colin gillbanks

      Oct 1, 2018 at 4:46 pm

      Especially when your team loses…..

      • Tom

        Oct 1, 2018 at 6:55 pm

        Difference is, this exhibition is the only event players do NOT get compensated….BIG difference, now that I explained it to you, can you understand, Jesse Boy and Colin Blo?

        • Simon

          Oct 2, 2018 at 9:45 am

          Seriously?? “Compensated”? Then again, maybe that’s it. The US team only get out of bed for money? Pretty sad state of affairs eh, little Tommy?

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