It’s a reflection of how favored the United States was heading into the 2018 Ryder Cup that its lopsided loss continues to be dissected in golf circles. One and a half weeks have passed since Team Europe won pulling away, claiming all but the first session of the competition and, in the process, underscoring the fact that having great players on a team does not necessarily make a great team — especially absent the camaraderie and esprit de corps protagonists lean on to pull through under pressure.
For Team USA captain Jim Furyk, it certainly hasn’t helped that his own charges place the loss in an altogether different perspective. The popular narrative for the old red, white, and blue following a successful challenge at Hazeltine two years ago had the task-force setup as an important ingredient to success. It was claimed to have influenced not just the composition of the 2018 squad, but the all-important pairings for the four-ball and alternate-shot matches.
In the wake of the stinging defeat, however, erstwhile Ryder Cup hero Patrick Reed threw shade on both the system and his skipper, pointing to faulty decision making as the cause of his poor showing. Other members of Team USA made sure to hold a contrary view, with veteran Phil Mickelson — who has competed in the biennial event a record 12 straight times — noting the unparalleled level of closeness they displayed in Paris, the result notwithstanding.
Furyk himself chose to stay silent — until, that is, he agreed to sit down with Golf Channel’s Tom Rosaforte over the weekend to shed more light on the US’ failings. Even as he took full responsibility for the setback, he saw fit to dispute Reed’s contentions during the interview. And from the outside looking in, what proved striking was not what he said, but how he said it. There was none of the adversarial stance that “Captain America” took. Instead, there was only acceptance of the outcome, and of his role in it.
Considering how Reed threw Furyk under the bus, the latter could have dug in and fought fire with fire. He didn’t. And he not only took the high road. In fact, he insisted that “I’d take those 12 players into the fire any day, on any course … Last week didn’t work out the way we wanted, but I love those guys and I love what we had together in the team room. And I’d do it all over again.” Enough said.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994.