That U.S. team was so strong that only rookie was David Duval, who was No. 2 in the world. This team had four unheralded rookies and couldn’t even rely on its stars. Of the top six players who qualified for the team, four didn’t win a match all week. The biggest flop was Masters champion Phil Mickelson, who went 0-4-1 and has won only one match in his last two Ryder Cups.
The biggest difference was the color on the scoreboards.
The Americans needed them to be awash in red, hopeful that would inspire the back end of the lineup. Just like the first two days, however, European blue was in vogue.
Europe led in eight of the 12 matches on the front nine, and American spirits sagged.
The only signs of life for the U.S. came from Stewart Cink, who birdied four of his first five holes to hand Sergio Garcia his only loss at The K Club and end his unbeaten streak at nine matches; and from Woods, who beat Robert Karlsson to finish this Ryder Cup at 3-2-0.
Woods only looked at the U.S. record since he came along. The world’s No. 1 player has won 12 majors and 53 times on the PGA Tour, but he has hoisted the Ryder Cup only once.
“What am I, 1-4 in Ryder Cups? It doesn’t sit well,” he said. “Nor should it.”
The blowout might have been even greater if not for a gesture of sportsmanship from Paul McGinley. His match was all square with J.J. Henry when the Irishman blasted out of the bunker for a conceded birdie. Henry still had 25 feet for birdie, but after a streaker ran onto the green, McGinley conceded the long birdie.
Otherwise, Europe would have been the first team to reach 19 points since this format began in 1979.
“It was a remarkable thing he did,” Johnson said. “I think it shows really what the spirit of this competition is all about.”
Competition? That’s debatable.
Europe now has captured the Ryder Cup five of the last six times, and eight of the last 11. The Americans now lead 24-10-2 in the overall series, but they no longer have to stump to be called the underdogs.
“It just shows the potential of European golf,” Woosnam said. “I think we’ve got the strength and depth for a long time to come, and I think the future of the Ryder Cup is going to look great for Europe.”
The American highlights were limited. Scott Verplank made a hole-in-one on the 14th hole while beating Padraig Harrington, giving him a 2-0 record this week but raising questions why Lehman made him a captain’s pick and then used him only twice all week.
The other one was comical.
Woods hit 9-iron to the front edge of the seventh green, then handed the club to caddie Steve Williams. The caddie leaned over to dip his towel in the River Liffey, slipped on a rock and dropped the 9-iron into the murky water.
“It was either going to be him or the 9-iron,” Woods said. “So he chose the 9-iron.”
At that point, Woods could only laugh. He went the next seven holes with only 13 clubs, but it didn’t matter.
No way Europe was going to lose its grip on the trophy.
Ryder Cup rout
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