In this Ryder Cup final day report, we look at where it went wrong for Europe. Were the US simply too good or could anything have been done differently
Final Day Ryder Cup Report: Where did it go wrong for Europe?
Before they even arrived at Hazeltine, the task facing Darren Clarke’s European Ryder Cup team was daunting. This US side, captained by Davis Love III, had a neat blend of youth and experience, it had a plethora of great putters, power hitters and major winners. By contrast, Europe’s side was one in transition. Six rookies and a much lower average world ranking were the indisputable facts that Clarke’s men would need to overcome. Despite their recent record in this event, this was never going to be easy.
Losing the opening round of foursomes 4-0 was the last thing they needed. A combination of American brilliance (Reed and Spieth set the tone) and poor play from two of Europe’s key veterans (Westwood and Kaymer), created a crisis they fought valiantly against until the very end.
Darren Clarke made some very good decisions. His handling of Thomas Pieters and Rafa Cabrera Bello in particular was a master stroke. That these two returned six and a half points from eight matches defies belief. Don’t forget Thomas Pieters was a wildcard pick who went on to win more points than any Ryder Cup rookie before him. Clarke was right to trust Pieters after his opening round defeat alongside Lee Westwood but how many would have left him on the bench?
There were mistakes from Europe’s captain too. After the Saturday morning foursomes, Europe were right back in this contest. Three of the six rookies had risen to the challenge, tasted the unique Ryder Cup action and emerged victorious. Wood, Cabrera Bello and Pieters were assured, calm and in form. Now was the time to go with them. Instead, Clarke left two of them on the bench for the afternoon fourballs in favour of Westwood and Kaymer. He chose experience over form and it backfired.
Clarke also persisted with pairing Rose and Stenson. In a team with six rookies, there was reason to split Europe’s dream team and harness the energy of the new comers. Conventional wisdom says that keeping them involved in the team formats might have helped them through the final day singles. Sullivan, Wood and Fitzpatrick only played once each before Sunday. On the fringes of the team and the periphery of the event, it was no surprise they all lost. As the Ryder Cup came to its final act, it was in the lower order where America took control.
One factor that was out of Darren Clarke’s hands was the predicament of his rookie major winner. That Danny Willett’s off course issues affected him on it was painfully clear to see. For a man who usually isn’t shy in coming forward he seemed uncharacteristically subdued, lacking in confidence. For the Masters Champion, this was a big opportunity missed. His heavy defeat in the singles to Brooks Keopka was the exclamation mark on a very difficult week. It was sad to see.
The American team were, at times, nothing short of brilliant. But that’s the point. Clarke and his team knew what they were walking into. A hostile crowd and a re-energised US team were always going to be hard to beat. With Patrick Reed leading them out, they holed putt after putt, day after day. Europe had to be perfect in every department. They weren’t. Another chapter in Ryder Cup history has been written. Europe’s golden run has come to an end.
In his current role, Neil is responsible for testing drivers and golf balls. Having been a part of the Golf Monthly team for over 15 years and playing off a handicap of 3, he has the experience to compare performance between models, brands and generations. For 2022 he thinks the main trend in drivers is: "In a word, consistency. Whilst all the brands are talking about ball speed (and the new drivers are certainly long), my biggest finding has been how much more consistent the ball flights are. Mishits don't seem to be causing the same level of drop-off or increase in the spin numbers. This means that more shots seem to be flying the way you want them to!" As far as golf balls are concerned the biggest development is in the, "three piece, non-Tour, urethane-covered section. For regular golfers, these models offer superb performance at both ends of the bag without denting your wallet quite as much as the premium Tour-played options."
Originally working with the best coaches in the UK to produce instruction content, he is now the brand's Digital Editor and covers everything from Tour player interviews to gear reviews. In his time at Golf Monthly, he has covered equipment launches that date back well over a decade. He clearly remembers the launch of the Callaway and Nike square drivers as well as the white TaylorMade driver families, such as the RocketBallz! If you take a look at the Golf Monthly YouTube channel, you'll see his equipment videos dating back over a decade! He has also conducted 'What's In The Bag' interviews with many of the game's best players like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm. Over the years, Neil has tested a vast array of products in each category and at drastically different price-points.
Neil is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade Stealth Plus Fairway Wood: Titleist TSR2 Hybrid: Titleist TS3 Irons (4-9): Mizuno JPX 919 Forged Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 46˚, 50˚, 54˚, 60˚ Putter: Odyssey Triple Track Ten Ball: Titleist Pro V1X
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