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October 2, 2016
Ryder Cup Victory for the USA
The Ryder Cup was over when Rory McIlroy was defeated by Patrick Reed in the first match of the 12 match final day. In a match that must have been setup in Hollywood, the two emotional leaders, who also were the hottest players for their respective sides were paired in the opening contest. Europe needed a quick start and they banked on Rory to give them an early advantage. Not only would they get a valuable point, but they would silence the American’s strongest player this week. Putting that point on the board would energize the rest of the team, or so they hoped.
Rarely does the hype match the results, but this one exceeded the expectations. Great shot was matched by great shot. Clutch putt was equaled by clutch putt. Dramatics and emotions were on full display. One would roar with delight and bravado and the other would match with the same or greater show of passion and theatrics. The spectators were going crazy and Rory and Patrick were riding the crest. This match exemplified what the Ryder Cup has become. Here were two fierce competitors with the will and heart of a champion, but they weren’t dreaded hated enemies, but adversaries in an epic battle that each desperately wanted to win.
After both players were five under par through 8 holes, you would think each would be drained from their outward emotions. After both bogied the 9th, Rory faltered a bit at the start of the back nine and Reed took his first lead. His deft bunker shot on 16 increased his advantage to 2 up with two to play. Rory won the 17th and with another win on the last hole, he could salvage at least an important half point. In classic fashion, Patrick answered Rory’s prolific drive with a tee shot in the fairway and a superb iron to six feet. Rory matched his effort with a shot a half inch closer. Reed now needed another pressure nerve-wracking putt to put the finishing touches on one of the epic clashes in Ryder Cup history. His putt was true to the heart of the hole and with it the European’s chances were reduced to near zero.
Darren Clark, the European Captain, had front loaded his lineup with his strongest players in the first six positions. But that put four rookies and a struggling Lee Westwood in the final six spots. All the rookies and Westwood lost with only Martin Kaymer, a veteran that was able to win his match out of the final six matches. The final score was USA 17 and Europe 11. It was a decisive victory and was a vindication of all the hard work the PGA and the American players, with Davis Love, did jointly to put the best prepared team together to take back the Cup.
Over shadowed in the victory was a tremendous match between Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia. Phil has been an outspoken critic of past Ryder Cup teams and captains. He pushed for changes for this year’s team. Davis Love was an excellent decisive captain, but Phil was the power behind the throne and the players’ leader. This Ryder Cup was extra special to him and playing well and contributing was extremely important to him. After winning two partner matches and losing one, he really wanted a win the individual match. He drew Sergio Garcia as his opponent. Sergio raises his game for Ryder Cup competition and is almost unbeatable. Phil came with determination and his “A” game on Sunday. He made 10 birdies along with a single three putt bogie only to be matched by Sergio’s equally as good 9 birdies without a bogie. Matching birdies on the last hole was a fitting conclusion to a great match. Both were disappointed with the tie, but after both played so exceptionally it would be almost unfair to have one of them lose.
The Ryder Cup had the drama and underlying pressure that made for great theater. The crowds were loud and boisterous, which only added to the excitement. Almost all the competitors were able to raise their level of play and made this 41st playing of the Ryder Cup one of the most memorable. With the American win, it will only intensify the rivalry and spirit of the competition for the next meeting in France in 2018. Emotions were on high and all represented and purported themselves in a professional manner. Gloat about the victory,