The face of a dejected and tired-looking Tiger Woods informed the story because the deflated USA workforce met reporters at yet one more shedding Ryder Cup media convention, this time close to Paris.
It wasn’t supposed to finish like this. They have been speculated to be celebrating an historic Ryder Cup win in Europe. A primary for 25 years, a hoodoo lastly damaged.
As a substitute, joking and laughing their method by way of their assembly with the media, it was the champagne-clutching European aspect who had dismantled arguably the strongest workforce in historical past.
Tiger’s toil, ‘Moliwood’ magic
The 42-year-old had been chosen as a participant for the primary time since 2012, however the vitality and emotion of a exceptional season took its toll and he misplaced all 4 of his matches at Le Golf Nationwide.
Regardless of his stellar profession, the Ryder Cup has by no means been a cheerful looking floor for Woods, and his efficiency in Paris took his report to performed 13, misplaced 21, halved three.
“I am one of many contributing elements to why we misplaced the Cup and it isn’t enjoyable,” he muttered from underneath the height of his pink cap because the incessant “Ole, ole, ole” chants from jubilant European followers rang out over the course.
The architect of Woods’ downfall was Italy’s British Open champion Francesco Molinari, who beat him thrice in workforce play with associate Tommy Fleetwood.
The pair earned cult standing in the course of the week, followers created songs of their honor and devised a brand new nickname, “Moliwood,” or “Machinari” for being like a machine. Woods additionally misplaced to passionate Spaniard Jon Rahm within the singles on Sunday.
Choosing the right associate for Woods — Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau joined the checklist of unsuitables — stays one in all golf’s nice unsolved mysteries. Do they not ignite him, does he intimidate them, or do their opponents strive further exhausting as a result of it is Woods?
After a 3rd straight defeat at Gleneagles in 2014, adopted by Phil Mickelson’s public slating of captain Tom Watson, the USA arrange its well-known “job pressure” to handle its Ryder Cup failings.
The commanding victory two years in the past at Hazeltine steered it was heading in the right direction with a crop of highly effective younger stars.
However Europe’s victory close to Versailles will ship the duty pressure again to the drafting board. One subject to handle will likely be particular person performances and the explanations behind them.
The 48-year-old Mickelson, handed a wildcard by captain and shut good friend Jim Furyk for a report 12th Ryder Cup, was a serious perpetrator.
The fading left-hander misfired and contributed precisely zero factors. It was his tee shot into the water on the 16th that sparked the concession that handed over the Cup. Very presumably the final shot he ever hits within the Ryder Cup.
Mickelson conceded he had struggled to search out his sport, however Furyk will likely be questioned for not selecting an in-form younger gun, although he insists “Lefty” brings much more to the workforce than simply his efficiency on the course. Someplace again in Kansas, Watson will need to have allowed himself a wry smile.
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson didn’t ignite and added a single level. Reed, dubbed “Captain America” for top-scoring for the USA in 2014 and 2016, was out of types and scored only one level. One other of Furyk’s 4 wildcards, DeChambeau, was additionally pointless.
For Europe, Thomas Bjorn’s wildcards Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson added 9.5 factors between them.
The scientific Molinari received all 5 of his factors to turn into the primary European to undergo a Ryder Cup unbeaten. And all 12 gamers contributed a minimum of some extent.
As Europe received eight straight workforce matches throughout Friday and Saturday, together with an historic session whitewash Friday afternoon to put the foundations for its 17½-10½ victory, the USA got here underneath hearth for struggling to adapt to the set-up of the golf course.
The tight fairways, thick tough and plentiful water largely took the driving force out of the fingers of the US bombers, and performed to the shot-making strengths of the Europeans. Europe has big-hitters too, equivalent to Rory McIlroy, however the feeling is they only discovered higher solutions to the questions posed by the course.
One important stat was that the USA workforce had performed solely eight aggressive rounds over the course earlier than the event, in contrast with Europe’s 236.
Solely Justin Thomas competed within the latest French Open at Le Golf Nationwide. Furyk insists the follow days he organized with a few of his different workforce members have been properly attended.
“We have been ready, we performed our follow rounds, we understood the golf course. We bought out performed,” Furyk informed the sombre information convention.
Acutely aware uncouplings
Different questions stay for Furyk. Why play the wayward Mickelson in foursomes when the alternate-shot format requires accuracy off the tee?
And why, in the identical session, omit Woods, whose iron play could be distinctive?
Furyk’s choice to separate up the Reed-Jordan Spieth axis that has proved profitable prior to now seemed to be a masterstroke as Spieth and finest good friend Thomas returned three factors collectively and have been USA’s most potent weapon.
Nonetheless, Reed was apparently fuming within the information convention when Furyk defined his pondering. Masters champion Reed claims it was all Spieth’s doing.
“I used to be (Jordan) like I used to be about to mild the room up like Phil in ’14.
He added, “Day-after-day, I noticed ‘Depart your egos on the door.’ They (the Europeans) do this higher than us.”
The USA is all the time criticized for a scarcity of workforce spirit in contrast with the extra pure camaraderie of Europe, and Reed’s outburst hints at but extra discord. Furyk and others, nonetheless, steered the workforce was tight.
“That is an superior workforce and we had phenomenal management,” mentioned Mickelson, who’s more likely to be USA captain sooner or later.
“Our captain is without doubt one of the finest individuals in golf and any person that I’ve all the time regarded as much as and I cherish our friendship.
“A few of you’ll query some choices however every thing was carried out with purpose, enter, thought by way of after which it is as much as us to execute. We simply did not fairly execute. And let’s be trustworthy. The European aspect performed some beautiful golf. I imply, it was some phenomenal golf. They usually flat out beat us.”
McIlroy additionally described Europe’s management as “phenomenal,” singling out Bjorn for creating the fitting surroundings during which to carry out.
Poulter and Justin Rose spoke of the calmness, professionalism, single-minded focus and “relentless pursuit of excellence.” And enjoyable.
The tight bond among the many Europeans was fueled by a “love-in” on its WhatsApp group, in accordance with McIlroy, whereas the gamers had further motivation in a pledge from Bjorn that he would get a tattoo on a personal space of his physique ought to they win.
Like Furyk, Bjorn was questioned forward of the occasion for selecting veterans as his wildcards — and within the case of Garcia, a participant struggling for kind — as a substitute of 1 or two gamers who simply missed out on automated qualification. They rewarded him in spades.
“I could not have dreamed of what they introduced on the golf course,” he mentioned. “However within the workforce room they bring about the expertise. They bring about the understanding.”
He added: “We labored as a workforce. We knew we have been up in opposition to very sturdy opponents however we believed in ourselves and what we stand for as a workforce. These gamers carry the torch for what the European Ryder Cup workforce is all about.”
Dwelling benefit is all the time key in sport and the 270,000 who crammed Le Golf Nationwide in the course of the week made it a spectacle of colour and noise because the overwhelming majority roared on Europe.
“The crowds have been wonderful,” mentioned Garcia, who received three matches to overhaul Nick Faldo because the main factors scorer in Ryder Cup historical past with 25.5. “They all the time are but it surely was simply unbelievable how supportive. I’ve by no means had so many massive cheers like I’ve had this week.
“I feel lots of people thought the Ryder Cup was over earlier than it was performed. I suppose, sadly, they picked the unsuitable workforce.”