Europe wins Ryder Cup after shocking collapse by Americans
Published: Sunday, September 30, 2012
Updated: Sunday, September 30, 2012 23:09
Before I begin, I just need to open by saying that this will hurt to write.
You see, today, I witnessed one of the biggest choke jobs you’ll ever see. Epic proportions, really.
Coming into Sunday at Medinah, the United States led 10-6 over the European squad, needing just 4.5 points more to win the Ryder Cup. Instead, the Europeans are partying on our soil tonight, and Chicago remains a city of sports heartbreak.
For those of you unfamiliar with how the Ryder Cup works, allow me to fill you in. The Cup is the biggest team tournament in golf; it’s contested every other year, with the host alternating between U.S. and Europe each time it is held. The 12 best players from each country/continent are selected to play on a team together, fighting to win a trophy for the pride of their home.
Yes, pride. Strictly pride. Players receive no money for competing in the Ryder Cup. They play solely for the desire to win the Cup and bring it home to their side - it’s that important.
The first two days of the tournament are split into two separate formats – foursomes and fourball. In foursomes, two players from each team are pitted against a pair from the other side, and the duo alternates shots, with the best score winning the hole. Like foursomes, fourball involves two players from each team, but rather than alternate shots, each player plays their own ball. Then, between the two players, the best score is used for that team and the team with the better score wins the hole. Both formats require eight players from each team to play, leaving the other four on the bench for that session.
On Sunday, the teams play singles matchplay. All 12 players play a 1 v. 1, 18-hole match against someone from the opposite squad.
In all three formats, teams receive one point for matches won and a half point for matches halved, meaning the total points available in the tournament is 28. The team that won the last Ryder Cup needs just 14 points to retain the Cup; while the other side needs 14.5 to take it back. In 2010, the Europeans won the tournament, giving them the slight edge heading into this past weekend.
But the Americans quickly came out and took that edge away, as they led 5-3 after the first day of competition. By midday Saturday, the U.S. team held a resounding 10-4 lead, leaving them with plenty of opportunities to make up the 4.5 points needed to close out the win.
Then the Europeans got hot.
Before the Americans knew what hit them, the tournament was tied 10-10 and their once-insurmountable lead had evaporated. The pressure of the event – which is unlike any other in golf – was evident all around the course, as no one on the U.S. side could roll in a putt.
Phil Mickelson went into the 17th hole with a 1-up lead. He lost.
Jim Furyk went into the 17th hole with a 1-up lead. He lost.
And worst of all, Steve Stricker – who went into the 17th hole against German Martin Kaymer all-square – one of the best putters in the game, lipped out on a six-footer to halve the hole.
Heading into the 18th hole, with the Ryder Cup tied at 13-13, Stricker suddenly found himself down one hole, needing to win the last in order to keep the tournament alive. But he couldn’t do it, and the U.S. players found themselves resigned to sit and watch as their adversaries lifted the Cup for the seventh time in the last nine events.
And the rest of the country sulked with them.
Reaction on Twitter was of devastated, shocked fans that had been given so much hope this was the year when European dominance came to an end.
Instead, what they got was a slap in the face and a reminder that nothing good happens when it comes to sports in Chicago.
Ironically, the best analogy I can make for this historic collapse happened in Beantown, not the Windy City.
Even though Cubs fans have seen and endured just about everything when it comes to painful sports moments, this was more Red Sox’ bad.
Shades of Boston’s crumble last September are the only thing that seems appropriate in comparison, as certainty quickly gave way to weariness – and then just plain pain.
So I’m sorry, America, if you watched that horror show unfold. I’m sorry to the greenskeeper at Medinah, too, for all those burned edges on the holes made by the U.S. team. And I’m sorry, professors, if I don’t find my way to class this morning; these aren’t just the Monday blues I’m dealing with, its Ryder Cup fever gone horribly wrong.