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Ryder Cup: The all-American hangover

October 08, 2018

Reports of American team-mates Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka being close to coming to blows at the European victory party after the Ryder Cup match in Paris a week ago were exaggerated. Indeed, they were inaccurate. Of course they were. Brooks said so. Although, as Mandy Rice-Davies said back in 1963: “Well, he would, wouldn't he?”

Ryder Cup: The all-American hangover, © Matthew Harris / TGPL
Practice days at Le Golf National

© Matthew Harris / TGPL

“This Dustin thing I don't get,” said Koepka. “There was no fight, there was no argument. He's one of my best friends.” Then how to explain why Paulina Gretzky, DJ's partner, deleted every picture of Koepka on her Instagram account? Mind you, Koepka admitted: “I'm not the biggest person on social media”, so maybe this dissing passed him by. He added: “The problem is you guys [the media] try to find a reason why we lost and the simple reason is we just didn't play well enough.” He also said: “If we play how we're supposed to play, we win, it's as simple as that.” Which might suggest that at least some of the American team were of the view that they pretty much just had to turn up and victory would be theirs.

The so-called ‘Captain America', the reigning Masters champion, Patrick Reed, was not happy either. The leading points winner for the US team in the last two Ryder Cups, he only played twice before the singles – both times in the fourballs, both times with Tiger Woods, both times being beaten by the Moliwood Duo. Reed said: “I thought our captain [Jim Furyk] might go back with the groups that have worked in the past. [Meaning pairing him with Jordan Spieth.] For somebody as successful in the Ryder Cup as I am, I don't think it's smart to sit me out twice. The issue is obviously with Jordan not wanting to play with me.”

It seems Jordan did want to play with his mate Justin Thomas, and since they won three of their four matches together, who can say Furyk called that one wrong? Although when Reed said “I saw those inspirational messages in our team room like ‘Leave your egos at the door',” and for good measure threw in the comment that “the Europeans do that better than us”, one figures he reckoned Furyk did not regard his 12 men as a team of equals; his own major title not putting him in the elevated company of some others.

The most decorated of America's nine major champions at Le Golf National were Woods (14 majors) and Phil Mickelson (five). With Ryder Cup records that now show they have respectively lost 21 and 22 matches in the event, the worst such totals in the competition's history, this was a dispiriting week for two of Furyk's wild cards, neither of whom managed to claim even half a point. But when more than one newspaper columnist derided their upcoming $9 million Thanksgiving weekend shoot-out in Las Vegas as a match-up of has-beens, I think they were missing the point. In a recent interview in Golf Digest , Paul Azinger, as committed a Ryder Cup player as anyone, remarked that while for that one week the Ryder Cup means everything, the emotion doesn't last – “not even for two days” – once it's over. Tiger's and Phil's poor play in Paris will not be referenced by anyone at Shadow Creek. What is unfortunate is that, with a couple of exceptions, the enthusiasm for golf engendered by the Ryder Cup in what used to be known as Fleet Street doesn't last more than two days either. The national press media coverage of golf represents a diet of feast and famine and we won't be gorging ourselves again until the Masters.

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