In focus: Ryder Cup loss reflects state of U.S. golf

By John Clayton, Staff Reporter
Published on Monday, October 1, 2012

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John Clayton

John Clayton

I’ve seen some strange things happen in Chicago, but nothing like Sunday’s American Ryder Cup collapse at Medinah Country Club.

I mean, Cubs fans are used to painful Septembers.

But in the northwest suburbs, Medinah has been a bastion of American golf in the pragmatic Midwest. The old gal is as steady as she comes.

And the state of American golf? Not so steady.

The Americans threw away a 10-6 lead during singles matches on Sunday, giving the Europeans another Ryder Cup victory on American soil.

The problem was once succinctly diagnosed by golf pundits:

The Americans, they said, were egocentric, so the team formats of alternate-shot and four-ball matches on Saturday play against the nature of the American golfers. The Europeans take advantage on Saturday and win it on Sunday.

Well, that theory is as dead as Elvis now.

Sunday’s American collapse looked as if it was engineered by Wall Street.

The Americans looked like they were more concerned with the NFL scoreboard than their own.

And Tony Romo is a better putter.

So, what happened?

In a nutshell: Nobody from across the pond fears Tiger Woods anymore. Ian Poulter is crazy-insane good when the Ryder Cup is on the line. Justin Rose was rolling in bombs from Gary, while no American could putt it into Lake Michigan.

Put all that together with monumental collapses by Jim Furyk and Phil Mickelson on Nos. 17 and 18, and you get a historic loss.

Oh, and Woods scored a half-point all weekend.

Maybe it was the ghost of Seve Ballesteros guiding the European putts toward the holes.

Or maybe it’s just that the Americans aren’t as mentally tough as they thought they were. There were once guys like the late Payne Stewart and Curtis Strange and Paul Azinger who would tear out your heart with a 60-degree wedge if that’s what it took.

They’re gone now and so is the Ryder Cup for at least two more years.

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