Golf Insider: Tame wild cards hung Jim Furyk out to dry at the Ryder Cup

Our Golf Insider witnessed the magical events of the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National and he’s got some strong words for the US captain Jim Furyk…


Well that was fun! The Ole Ole Oles were still ringing around Le Golf National late into Sunday night as the champagne soaked into the uniforms of a giddy group of 12 European golfers.

For captain Thomas Bjorn and his team it was the perfect end to two years of navel-gazing after the misery of Hazeltine in 2016, as the United States had their fingers unceremoniously ripped from the Ryder Cup they had fought so hard to win back for the first time in eight years.

There were no recriminations in the American camp after a 17.5 to 10.5 hammering, certainly nothing like the hatchet job inflicted on 2014 captain Tom Watson by Phil Mickelson as they shared a media conference top table at Gleneagles. Although, Patrick Reed did have something to say of course, taking a pot-shot at Jordan Speith.

That third loss on the bounce had prompted the creation of a taskforce by the PGA of America to make sure this sort of trouncing never happened again, giving Mickelson and his fellow underachievers the opportunity to put their money where their mouths were.

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It sparked the revival at home in Minnesota in 2016 as Darren Clarke’s Europeans were blown away by a menacing red tide inside and outside the ropes, but yet again an American side has travelled east across the Atlantic as firm favourites and been sent packing with their tails between their legs.

It will be a 29-year drought they will be seeking to end when the Cup comes back to Europe in 2022 at the still to be built Marco Simone Golf and Country Club course outside Rome. However, more immediately there must be an inquest into how Jim Furyk’s side performed so badly in Paris.

The US won just won of the five sessions over the weekend, and that was the opening fourballs on Friday morning. After that it was all blue save for a tied foursomes session on Saturday afternoon which merely maintained Europe’s four-point cushion.

Furyk, gracious in defeat, claimed he was beaten by a better captain and perhaps he was in some respects, but he was also let down by the very players he had invited onto his side as wild cards.

Of his four captain’s picks, only the rookie Tony Finau contributed points, two of them in fact as fellow debutant Bryson DeChambeau and twin colossi Mickelson and Tiger Woods failed miserably to make an impact.

In fairness to Furyk, there were few dissenters when he unveiled his captain’s picks, certainly not the misgivings that surfaced when Bjorn unveiled Sergio Garcia as one his quartet last month.

But, that’s the fickle nature of the beast. Garcia thrived once more in the Ryder Cup setting, while Woods merely resumed his biennial discomfort in the team environment.

Woods finished the week a hollow imitation of the renaissance man that had strode up the 18th at East Lake just seven days early as he slumped to a fourth defeat of the week, handing excitable Spanish young gun Jon Rahm a memorable first Ryder Cup point in Sunday’s singles.

The Americans insisted on presenting their rivals with gifts all weekend. Furyk sending out Mickelsome in foursomes rather fourballs on Friday for instance. Rickie Fowler and world number one Dustin Johnson peaking on the first morning and declining from there on in.

Patrick Reed losing his commission as Captain America and DeChambeau cursing his fortune to be paired not just with Mickelson in that De-Shambolic foursomes partnership, but then being teamed up with the miserable Woods on day two. Talk about wringing the life out of a rookie!

It wasn’t all down to American mis-steps though.

Europe proved themselves once again to be the true masters of this team format and bringing the best out of uniting 12 individuals in a selfish sport behind a single cause.

How else do you explain Thorbjorn Olesen being benched for three sessions in a row after an opening defeat and then coming out on a Sunday and hammering Jordan Spieth 5&4?

What gives with Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari playing like long lost brothers and winning four from four as Europe’s most successful pairing?

And how the hell does Sergio Garcia park a season of woeful form and turn it on like a world-beater under the European flag?

You just cannot find a logical explanation for any of that, and that’s why the Ryder Cup is such a compelling spectacle, home or away.

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