Each week we ask our panel of writers, PGA members and golf industry experts to weigh in with their views on the hot topics of the day.
There are many reasons cited for the first US victory at the Ryder Cup in eight years. What do you think turned things around for them this time?
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): 1. A better team. 2. A focus on team camaraderie. 3. A raucous home crowd. 4. Phil Mickelson and Patrick Reed channelling Ian Poulter and Justin Rose from Medinah. 5. Ex-lax.
TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): Lee Westwood’s putting? Seriously, I love watching and cheering for that guy, but his two missed putts on 17 and 18 Saturday afternoon really turned the tide in my mind, and shifted the momentum heading into singles play. And then the US just lit it up in singles. It also helped that a couple of the Europeans didn’t show up at all (Fitzpatrick and Sullivan), giving the US some easy points. I just think the US was more experienced and deeper, and it showed in the end.
Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): I think that they all fed off of Patrick Reed’s energy. The Texan was playing tremendous golf and going completely berserk out there when he made putts. I think that type of emotion is contagious — and essential for Ryder Cup success — and helped fuel the American side to its first win since 2008.
Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): Quite simply, they just played better. They got off to a great start in the team four-ball matches and never looked back.
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): Ryder Cups tend to be won or lost on the slimmest of margins. Usually it comes down to a missed putt or two. Captain Darren Clarke lost primarily because he didn’t use his rookies properly and made the same mistake former American captains made of relying too much on veterans. In Clarke’s case, loyalty to his old pal Lee Westwood and former two-time major winner Martin Kaymer backfired. Both played abysmally. When the rookies had to perform, except for Thomas Pieters who was brilliant, they didn’t have anything to draw on. The US squad was good but that six point margin can be blamed mostly on Clarke and his veterans not getting their jobs done.
It would appear that Patrick Reed is the new emotional leader of the US team in much the same way Ian Poulter led the Europeans for several years. His singles victory over Rory McIlroy was epic and may have lit a fire under the American team. Are you a fan of his style and does each team need a character leader like that?
Rule: Simple answer, nope! I am not a fan of Patrick Reed, I think he’s obnoxious. However, he was pretty unbelievable in this Ryder Cup, and is clearly the emotional leader of that team. It’s funny how when Rory gets fired up and takes a bow, it doesn’t bother me, but when Reed does it, it gets under my skin. He’s just unlikeable and always has been. But you can’t question the fact that his play fired the team up and led them to victory.
Kaplan: The Ryder Cup makes for better television when you have players who wear their emotions on their sleeves. Yes, I am a fan of that style of golf and I really don’t know anyone who isn’t! Having an emotional leader is a huge advantage in this type of tournament, and is — in my opinion — one of the main reasons why the Americans were not able to get it done over the last eight years. This was one of the most emotional and passionate US squads that I can remember and they thumped the Europeans.
Loughry: Nope, not a fan of Reed or his style. I think he may be right behind Bubba if you took a poll of the least liked players on Tour. But that said, you do need a catalyst. Sometimes that can come from a cheerleader but it mostly comes in the form of exemplary play. And that’s what Reed provided most. Never mind all the other shenanigans.
Deeks: I’ve never admired Patrick Reed, and his over-the-top reaction to every good shot and sunken putt turned my stomach this weekend. I was literally yelling “oh shut up!” at the screen. But I do give him credit for firing up the team, which (to answer the question) every team does need. And I also give him credit for fantastic golf with McIlroy.
Mumford: Reed is like the Boston Bruins’ Brad Marchand – a guy you never want to play against but would love to have on your own team. They bring an emotional element to the game that motivates teammates and absolutely rankles the opposition. Call them rats, villains or something worse but they can get under your skin and put you off your game. Reed is one of the best at it. Every team needs a guy like that.
Prior to the matches, Danny Willett’s brother penned a fairly mean spirited blog about the American fans. There were multiple incidents of spectators being ejected and plenty of cheering when Europe missed a putt or hit a poor shot. Were the fans out of line or should we just accept that this rowdiness is the new normal for the Ryder Cup?
Deeks: Yes and yes, unfortunately. Although, I dread the day when the British or Euro fans start yelling horrible, personal things like the American idiots do… or when it starts to degenerate into fistfights in the bleachers. That may well be coming. Mind you, knowing British fans, they’ll probably yell things like, “I say, Mickelson, old boy, I understand your wife is quite the trollop!”
Kaplan: It is imperative that fans at the Ryder Cup are rowdy and boisterous. That is the benefit of the home turf advantage. I have no problem with American fans cheering after a European player dunks his ball in the water or mis-hits a tee shot, but a line must be drawn between what is acceptable crowd behaviour and what is not. Fans should not be allowed to get away with borderline harassment out there and I’m glad that the officials at Hazeltine took a stand and ejected those spectators who were spewing vitriol and slurs at McIlroy. Fans who act like jackasses stain the sport that they are watching. If you want to act like that, just stay home instead and yell at your television from your couch.
Loughry: Some fans were clearly out of line. It is certainly going to take its toll on the Ryder Cup at some point. Either more security or liquor ban, etc. The most respectful heckle I heard was “Rory, we love you 51 weeks of the year, just not this week”. You know full well that fan understands the boundary of good and bad taste. Some of the other boozed out yahoos clearly did not.
Rule: It just shocks me how the American fans don’t know how to conduct themselves on a golf course. Are they all just football fans coming to this event because it’s a big sporting event? Maybe they don’t understand golf? I couldn’t believe it when one guy yelled something just as Rory was about to stroke a putt to try to halve the match on 18 on Friday. Blows my mind! As much as it was terrible timing for Willett’s brother to write that article, I can’t say a lot of it was untrue! So the short answer is yes, they were out of line on many occasions and it just gives me more reason to cheer for the Euros every 2 years.
Mumford: The American fans were beyond obnoxious. The constant chanting of USA! USA! is annoying enough but what irritated me most was the boisterous cheering whenever a Euro missed a putt or dunked one in the water. On several occasions one of the over-served heckled a Euro as he was about to hit a shot. That should be a hanging offence in my books. I suppose the Ryder Cup is one of those events that attracts more than golf fans so some of it can be expected but a little decorum or sportsmanship would be nice. I can hardly wait until 2018 when the Ryder Cup goes to France and the poor Americans will get it back in spades, even though they won’t understand most of the abuse being heaped upon them.