Cleat Geeks

The 19th Hole: Team USA captures the Ryder Cup

The Ryder Cup is staying on American soil.rydercup

Team USA surged to the lead in the competition with a perfect first session, then finished strong in singles matches to post a 17-11 victory in golf’s rowdiest, most team-oriented format, played at home this year at Hazeltine in Minnesota.

It was vindication for captain Davis Love III, who also was captain the last time the Ryder Cup was played in America in 2012. That year, the Americans blew a 10-6 advantage on the final day as Europe rallied for a 14.5-13.5 triumph. Then two years ago, Europe won for the eighth time in the past 10 Ryder Cups at Gleneagles, Scotland.

But Love and his team were having nothing of it this year, winning the first four alternate shot matches and never trailing in the team contest.

“I’m tremendously proud of their effort, the way they competed and the way they hung together,” Love said. “This team’s been questioned and beat up for a long time, and I’m proud of the way they came together and the way they played and the way they represented their country.”

Europe entered Sunday’s singles matches trailing 9.5 to 6.5 after the USA jumped out to the lead in that first team session and spurred by the duo of Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth, who won three of their four matches.

The Europeans sent out their top players early. Rory McIlroy had a spirited battle with Reed in the opening match, with the pair trading big putt after big putt and the American eventually prevailing for a key early point.

Think golf is boring to watch? Check out these reactions from the aforementioned match.

 

Reed was the emotional leader on the course throughout the week for the Americans, with his spirit leading much of the crowd’s raucous behavior.

“Anytime I can wear the red, white and blue, play for our country, and it happens to be match play, it kind of all just fits in,” Reed said. “Any time I feel like I can go one-on-one against somebody, it’s something I love to do.”

golfredwhiteblueHenrik Stenson and Thomas Pieters picked up early wins in the singles for the Europeans against Spieth and J.B. Holmes, but Europe would gain only 2.5 more points in the final nine matches. Ryan Moore, who was Love’s final captain’s pick the week before the competition started, earned the clinching point for Team USA against Lee Westwood, who went winless on the week for Europe.

“You know, for that to actually work out was pretty incredible, and for that to actually be the point that clinched this beautiful Ryder Cup,” Moore said.

The Ryder Cup used to be thoroughly dominated by the U.S. when it was just staged between the Americans and Great Britain/Ireland, that the rules were changed in 1979 to allow players hailing from all of Europe to be the opposing team.

Now the tide had turned, with the U.S. managing just one team win since the turn of the century. The decisive result of this year’s matches figures to ignite some good play in two years as the event will be played on European soil outside of Paris.

“America came in as the favorites and justifiably so, especially on home turf,” McIlroy said. “We came here in front of a tough crowd and we gave it our all. We put up a great fight and at the end it just wasn’t enough.”

 

Looking ahead – Tiger’s backtigerwoods3

The PGA Tour’s wraparound season runs from October 2016 through September 2017 and play resumes after a week off with the Safeway Open Oct. 15-18.

And boy, did that tournament get a little more interesting a few weeks ago. That’s when Tiger Woods declared he’d be making his return to golf at the event after more than a year away from competition, dealing with injury and multiple surgeries.

Tiger was a vice captain at the Ryder Cup and by all accounts did a superb job behind the scenes for Team USA. Now he is ready to step back out front and center.

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