Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson now have more losses than anyone else in Ryder Cup history
As two of the 10 best players go, so goes the U.S.
Coming into the 2018 Ryder Cup, I thought two of the 10 best players of all-time (Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson) would be a boon to an already-loaded U.S. side. As it turns out, I forgot to look at their career Ryder Cup records coming in was 31-37-10. It's now six worse as Woods lost four matches in Paris and Mickelson lost two. No golfers in history have lost more than Woods and Mickelson. They are now a combined 31-43-10 in Ryder Cups.
Mickelson "leads" the way with 22 Ryder Cup losses. Woods is now just behind him with 21 after "breaking out of" a tie with his captain Jim Furyk on Sunday in Paris.
I thought this year would be different because they were surrounded by 10 of the best golfers alive, future hall of famers who will have plaques next to theirs in 10 or 20 years. They led the team in majors with 19, but the other 10 guys came in with 12 of their own. Brett Wetterich and Vaughn Taylor, they were not.
It went poorly from the start, though. Woods paired with Patrick Reed in the opening four-ball matches, and delivered the only U.S. loss of that session. They got beat 3&1. After making six birdies in the first 10 holes they went silent the rest of the way and got housed at the end by Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari. It would somehow (?) get worse from there.
Woods sat that afternoon, and Mickelson paired with mathematician and golfer Bryson DeChambeau. They played 14 holes in 1 over in the foursomes portion of the event and never saw the 15th. Mickelson would sit the rest of the week until singles, and Woods might as well have.
Two more putrid losses for Big Cat -- one with Reed and one with DeChambeau -- on Saturday left him 0-3-0 and looking for answers. They wouldn't come on Sunday.
He got matched against rookie Jon Rahm in singles, and boy did it not go well. Rahm ended him on the 17th hole with his fourth birdie of the day. Woods was even par over the course of their match (with an eagle). A listlessness that lingered all week was momentarily broken up with a big fist pump eagle at No. 9, but that waned and so did he and Rahm put him to sleep late.
Mickelson on the other hand went away to great fervor. In his pillow fight with Molinari he played 16 holes in roughly 2 over and conceded his match (and the Ryder Cup) on a water ball on the par-3 16th. It was a fitting end for someone who was both lousy all week and who has the most losses in Ryder Cup history.
Some of that is unfair -- you have to have played in more Ryder Cups than anyone else to have more losses than anyone else -- but his 18-22-7 record speaks for itself. And none of the rhetoric is great.
"Well, it's disappointing because I went 0-4, and that's four points to the European team," said Woods after his match. "And I'm one of the contributing factors to why we lost the Cup, and it's not a lot of fun. It's frustrating because we came here, I thought we were all playing pretty well, and I just didn't perform at the level that I had been playing, and just got behind early in the matches and never got back."
"To have a Ryder Cup end that way, for me personally, it doesn't feel very good because I didn't help my teammates earn any points," said Woods. "At the end of the day, we came here as a team and we win or lose, and unfortunately we lost this one."
Woods and Mickelson were both captain's picks and expected to help the U.S. team in a number of different ways, not the least of which was aggregating at least a handful of points. While it sounds like they were important figures in the team room (always good), their on-course play could not have been less inspiring. Maybe that doesn't matter to the rest of the team but maybe it does.
"I thought that the way he brought everybody in together on decisions ... some of you might question some of the decisions, but everything was done with reason, input, thought through," said Mickelson. "It's up to us to execute, and we just didn't ... execute. I thought that this was really a special week for all of us, and there have been two years, this year and 2006 with Tom Lehman, where it breaks my heart a little bit more than others, because those two we didn't execute while we were given every opportunity to succeed."
If that's the last Ryder Cup that Mickelson and Woods play in, they will have lifted just one trophy together, and it took a miracle to win that one in 1999. Woods hadn't made the team when Mickelson won it in 1995. And then he missed both the 2008 and 2016 versions. All the others have been European wins. Woods and Mickelson are 1-7 in Ryder Cups where they both play.
It's a sad thought that we might never see Woods and Mickelson on the same Ryder Cup team again. Mickelson is 48 and will be 50 at the next one at Whistling Straits in 2020. Woods will be 44, and there are always injury questions. For all these two have done in and for the game, they haven't found success at Ryder Cups. That's a mystery, for sure, and it appears it will probably remain that way forever.
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