Ryder Cup 2018: Europe rolled the U.S. because the Americans never showed up in Paris

There was talk coming into the week of this 2018 United States Ryder Cup squad being a "Dream Team" of sorts. They had the No. 1 player in the world, three of the top four, 11 of the top 17, two of the 10 best players ever and the best average world ranking of any team in the history of this event. Then they got pounded into oblivion in Paris by Tommy Fleetwood and his band of ball-striking disciples, 17.5-10.5. I'm not even sure it was as close as the seven-point margin would suggest.

Europe, on the other hand, came in seemingly wounded. Their four captain's picks -- Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson -- had combined for one top 10 on the PGA Tour since the U.S. Open at Shinnecock, and their beating heart (Rory McIlroy) had just been baptized at the hands of one of the U.S. captain's picks (Tiger Woods) last Sunday at the Tour Championship. Nothing about the trajectory of either team screamed, "Europe big in Paris!"

But here we are after three days. A sad and bludgeoned Bryson DeChambeau walked the flag on the 18th green back to the hole as Europe ran laps around the green to celebrate the 322-foot putt Alex Noren made to end the event. It was Phil Mickelson running the bus over Tom Watson and the U.S. at Gleneagles, only this time it came at the hands of the Europeans, and it actually happened on the course.

When losses like this -- big losses like this -- happen, there are always Tony Finau-sized fingers used to point and spread the blame. Normally there is enough to evenly distribute to all parties. The captain, the vice captains, the players, the other team's players, the week's plan and you can maybe even loop in the uniform designers if you feel so inclined (or it rains a lot).

We like to look at the other team and laud them for what they did right. The European infrastructure, we say. It just matters more, we type. They get the format and the setup, we holler. While all of those things might be (and probably are on some level) true, this year's event and its result was pretty simple.

Europe's golfers played about how they've been playing as a unit -- which is to say they played slightly above average -- and the U.S. players couldn't hit it in the Seine River if you put them on its banks and told them it was the fairway. A task force led by Woods with an earpiece and combat helmet can't help you there.

How bad were the Yanks? I'm glad you asked. Let's take a look at all 17.5 of Europe's points and how hard they had to work to earn them. This is always mildly tricky when it comes to match play because not all holes get played until the end. If and when a hole was conceded, I simply did my best to be fair with what I presumed the result would have been.

Session 1 -- Fourball

EuropeUnited StatesResultActual scoreBirdies

Fleetwood / Molinari

Reed /Woods

3&1

-6 thru 17

9

This was a proper win for fourballs. Nothing fake about making nine birdies in 17 holes against the best player in the history of the sport. A well-earned point for Europe.

Session 2 -- Foursomes

Session United StatesResultActual scoreBirdies

Stenson / Rose

Fowler / Johnson

3&2

E thru 16

2
Poulter / McIlroy Watson / Simpson 4&2 E thru 16 2
Garcia / Noren Mickelson / DeChambeau 5&4 -3 thru 14 6
Molinari / Fleetwood Spieth / Thomas 5&4 -1 thru 14 3

These numbers aren't terrible for foursomes, I suppose, although the U.S. didn't even really put up a fight. The Yanks could muster just eight birdies and played these 60 holes in 11 over (!) compared to the Europeans playing them in 4 under. The U.S. didn't reach the 17th hole in any of the four matches, and in two of them they got hammered by teams that posted all of two birdies on the other side. That's not Europe simply having more dudes. Rather, it's the U.S. team shooting itself in the foot and having to limp through 20 more matches.

Session 3 -- Fourball

EuropeUnited StatesResultActual scoreBirdies

Garcia / McIlroy

Finau / Koepka

2&1

-7 thru 17

8
Casey / HattonJohnson / Fowler3&2 -9 thru 16 9
Molinari / FleetwoodWoods / Reed4&3 -6 thru 16 6

Probably the most honest of the four team matches. The U.S. teams besides Spieth and Thomas again played horrendously, but at least they got beat by good scores. Combined U.S. scores in these three losses was 11 under with 14 birdies. 

Session 4 -- Foursomes

EuropeUnited StatesResultActual scoreBirdies

Stenson / Rose

Koepka / Johnson

2&1

E thru 17

3
Molinari / Fleetwood Woods / DeChambeau5&4 -4 thru 14 4

Fleetwood and Molinari continued their stellar play, but Woods and DeChambeau were 1 over through 14 holes and didn't even reach the 15th. The U.S. was a combined 1 over with five total birdies in these two matches. Again, the Euros played fine, but it's not like they were lights out.

Session 5 -- Singles

EuropeUnited StatesResultActual ScoreBirdies

Casey

Koepka

Halved

-3 thru 18

5
RahmWoods2&1-2 thru 174
Poulter Johnson2UP -2 thru 185
OlesenSpieth5&4 -4 thru 14 5
GarciaFowlerEurope 2&1E thru 17
2
MolinariMickelson4&2-1 thru 162
StensonWatson5&4-6 thru 146
NorenDeChambeau1UP-5 thru 185

Four (!) Americans got beat for full points by guys who didn't shoot better than 2 under through the holes they got to. Four! Garcia and Molinari each made two birdies and shot a combined 1 under and neither had to play the 18th hole. 

In a sport where the margins are thin, these margins are not, and that's sort of the problem. The Europeans played about how you would expect a team of their caliber to play in a Ryder Cup. They're a solid team full of good players. The U.S. players are better by every statistical measure. They represent six of the last seven major winners. Europe doesn't even have six total major winners on its team. 

Europe is what we thought they were, but the United States did not rise to the occasion. They didn't even roll over for the occasion. They just laid down and took the beating.

We can quibble over how Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson shouldn't have played on Friday or about how Furyk shouldn't have put two guys with calm demeanors (Fowler and Johnson) together or about how it just means more to Europe (feels like a fallacy). But the bottom line in the 2018 Ryder Cup is the bottom line in most golf events. You win if you play well, and you lose if you don't. 

If there's another task force assembly (there won't be), it should be a short meeting with two words on a one-slide deck. In 2020 and beyond the U.S. needn't reinvent the wheel. All it needs to do is what it always needs to do: Play better.

CBS Sports Writer

Kyle Porter began his sports writing career with CBS Sports in 2012. He covers golf, writes poetry about Rory McIlroy's swing, stays ready on Tiger watch and loves the Masters more than anyone you know.... Full Bio

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