Oct
2
2016
Ryder Cup Rewind: Taking a look back at the final day’s matches
By Brendan Prunty under Ryder Cup
Phil Mickelson had reason to jump for joy -- his half-point Sunday was critical to the U.S. effort.

Phil Mickelson had reason to jump for joy — his half-point Sunday was critical to the U.S. effort.

The eight-year wait is over – the Ryder Cup is once again back in the hands of the United States, after a 17-11 win on Sunday at Hazeltine. The excitement died down toward the end of the day as the Americans began quickly flipping matches to their side, leaving the Europeans few outs to try and retain the Cup.

While the celebration will be a raucous one, the real litmus test for the United States in this event will come in two years when the 42nd Ryder Cup matches take place at Le Golf National in France in 2018. The United States hasn’t won a Ryder Cup on foreign soil since The Belfry in 1993 – that’s a full quarter-century. Still, it’s time to enjoy this win and look back at the Cup-clinching day:

MATCH OF THE DAY
Phil Mickelson (United States) vs. Sergio Garcia (Europe)

Singles, Match Halved
It may seem blasphemous to not put the Patrick Reed-Rory McIlroy slugfest here, but truthfully, there wasn’t a more important match than Mickelson-Garcia. The 11-time Ryder Cupper Mickelson didn’t give in at any point, even as the equally experienced Garcia continued to throw punch after punch. The result was a half-point that was immense and essentially cemented the United States’ win at the end of the day.

HERO
Patrick Reed, United States

Do they hand out permanent residencies for the Ryder Cup team? They should after this week. Reed was (for the second straight Ryder Cup) out-freakin’-standing. Forget the toe-to-toe battle on Sunday with McIlroy, Reed did it for five sessions over the course of three days. With the exception of the blip on Friday afternoon (where he and Spieth got rocked by Rose-Stenson), he was aces all event long.

GOAT
Danny Willett, Europe

The first Ryder Cup appearance for the reigning Masters champion proved to be a week to forget for Willett. It got started with the off-the-course stuff, regarding his brother’s tweets about American fans. But then the golf got started and Willett was a total non-factor. He posted a 0-3-0 record, and was barely competitive. He played in three sessions only, and lost 5 & 4 twice.

WHAT WORKED
Putting Patrick Reed out in every session

It seemed like kind of a no-brainer, but Ryder Cup captains (especially on the American side it seems) are hesitant to put players out for every session in this event. But credit to DL3 who realized where his team would take its cues from and didn’t sway from it.

WHAT DIDN’T
Front-loading the Europe lineup

In fairness, Darren Clarke really had no choice – his team was trailing to start the day and simply wasn’t as deep as the American side, which led to a lot of red on the scoreboard as the afternoon wore on. However, it might have made more sense to alternate veterans and rookies, right? It still would’ve allowed Europe the opportunity to make up ground early with some vets out there, but perhaps steal a match or two with a rookie.

MOMENT OF THE DAY
Patrick Reed and Rory McIlroy’s first eight holes

Forgive the hyperbole, but that was the most exciting eight holes of a Ryder Cup match we’ve seen. The shot-making prowess, the excitement from the crowd, the reactions from both players and the showmanship shown by each made it one for the ages. The match petered out a bit (though not by much) the rest of the way, but that was mainly because the action was so hot at the beginning.