The U.S. Ryder Cup team lost on foreign soil. Again. For the sixth time in a row. Obviously, no one was happy afterwards. Yet, in typical Stars & Stripes fashion, fingers were immediately pointed at anyone other than themselves.
As John Feinstein writes, our petulant squad still needs to learn one major thing. How to lose graciously.
When the United States hammered Europe 17-11 in the 2016 Ryder Cup matches at Hazeltine National, the European team had nothing but good things to say about the Americans.
“I went home and watched a replay on television,” Rory McIlroy said later. “As I watched I realized they did to us what we had done to them over the years: They made every clutch putt. They deserved to win. They were better than us that weekend.”
On Sunday night, when the matches were over, the Europeans trooped into the American team room to toast their victory and to thank them for being hospitable hosts. There were warm speeches and handshakes and hugs all around.
Then the Euros returned to their own team room and presented a poster signed by all of them to Darren Clarke, their captain, as thanks for all the work he’d done to try to help them win. They then serenaded him with the “Ole” song as a fond farewell to his captaincy.
When the U.S. Ryder Cup Committee—the group formerly known as the Ryder Cup “Task Force”—next meets, here’s an item they should add to their agenda: Teach the Americans to learn how to deal with defeat.
Europe beat the U.S. in Paris eight days ago by an almost identical score, 17½-10½, as the Americans margin at Hazeltine. U.S. captain Jim Furyk handled the post-match press conference beautifully, giving credit to the European captain Thomas Bjorn and to the European players, and saying his team had given him everything he could possibly have asked of them.
“They just outplayed us,” he said. “They were the better team and Thomas was the better captain.”
“No, he wasn’t,” Rickie Fowler piped up—almost unnoticed.
Fowler wasn’t being un-gracious at that moment, he was standing up for Furyk. But from there, it all went downhill, the Americans taking a bad situation and making it worse.
In 2012, after the American Cup meltdown at Medinah, Mickelson and the entire American team failed to go to the European team room for the traditional toast to the winners. Captain Davis Love III went alone to congratulate the Europeans.
And then came the infamous attack on Watson in 2014, which most people now excuse Mickelson for because it led to the “Task Force,” which had solved all future Ryder Cup issues. Because the players had been given more input, they were never going to lose again.
Now, the Americans need to copy Europe one more time and learn how to lose with grace, dignity and class. Being bad losers is the one aspect of the Ryder Cup the Americans seem—sadly—to have mastered.