By Jay Betsill
Two years after being crushed at Gleneagles, the Americans had undergone a complete overhaul and used its new team concept at Hazeltine National to win its first Ryder Cup in nearly a decade.
Phil Mickelson, playing in his record 11th Ryder Cup, was the most vocal that things needed to be changed and he backed it up with his play, winning 2.5 points culminating in a tie with Sergio Garcia in singles play that saw Mickelson make 10 birdies and Garcia make nine.
“When put in the right environment, the U.S. team brought out some amazing golf,” Mickelson said. “And we’re bringing back the Ryder Cup because of it.”
The first match of Sunday’s singles play was between Patrick Reed and Rory McIlroy and it will go down as one of the greatest duels in golf history. The emotional battle featured fist-pumps, finger waving and an intense crowd that both taunted and cheered, often simultaneously.
When Reed finished as the 1-up winner, it set the tone for ended up being a dominant USA victory by a final score of 17-11 over Europe.
“I’m just proud of these guys. They had a lot of pressure on them for the last two years,” said U.S. captain Davis Love III. “Every time we picked a guy, they had more and more pressure, more and more questions. I’m just so proud of the way they played.”
There was a lot of talk about the American team’s task force and the fact that Love had five vice-captains at his disposal, including major champions Tiger Woods and Bubba Watson.
“We were a team. Whether I was playing or not, I was part of a team,” Woods said. “And our team won.”
In spite of being passed over in favor of Ryan Moore for the final spot on the U.S. team, Watson asked to be a vice-captain because he wanted to be a part of the team.
“A couple of guys called me and said, ‘Bubba, I need you by my side, shoulder to shoulder.’ And the last couple of days, that’s what I did,” Watson said. “It was a dream come true for me. This is the greatest thing I have ever done in golf. I am so happy for this team. This team was amazing. They took me with open arms and let me be a part of it.”
The Americans finished with their second-biggest margin of victory — behind only 1981 when they topped Europe 18½ to 9½.
For complete Ryder Cup coverage, visit rydercup.com
The PGA Tour returns on Oct. 13 with the Safeway Open at Silverado Country Club in Napa, CA. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are among those who are scheduled to play when the new PGA Tour season gets underway.