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Euro Thrash
Alan Shipnuck
September 27, 2004
With toughness and togetherness, the breezy Europeans blew away the uptight U.S. to win the Ryder Cup
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September 27, 2004

Euro Thrash

With toughness and togetherness, the breezy Europeans blew away the uptight U.S. to win the Ryder Cup

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The Euros got another lift when the 30-year-old Riley begged off from a foursomes pairing with Woods, saying he was "really tired"--despite having played only two matches in two days--and citing his inexperience in alternate-shot play. This didn't sit well with old-school U.S. vice captain Jackie Burke. "The way to learn how to play alternate shot is to get your ass out there," growled the 81-year-old Burke.

So Davis Love III was stuck with Woods, who went back to his usual brooding self in an ugly 4-and-3 loss to Harrington and fellow Irishman Paul McGinley. It was on Saturday afternoon that Spain's irrepressible Sergio Garc�a took his star turn, guiding rookie Luke Donald from England to a taut one-up victory over Furyk and Fred Funk. That gave Garc�a three wins in partner play for the second straight Ryder Cup, and once again he displayed more game and spirit than any American. ( Garc�a and Westwood led the Cup with 401 records.) By taking three out of four in the afternoon, Europe pushed its lead to 11--5, meaning it needed only three points from the 12 singles matches to retain the Cup.

Sunday was fun for about two hours, as at one point Europe led in only one match. But the Europeans' collective will and talent snuffed out the Americans' rally. Batting leadoff, Woods was one of only four Americans to win his singles match, as Europe took 7 1/2 points. Alone at last, Tiger finally played his best golf of the week, not losing a hole while blitzing Casey 3 and 2. Woods credited his success to treating the match like the last round of a major championship, the lonely milieu in which he feels most comfortable.

Montgomerie may never taste the sweetness of a major victory, but he is happy to stake his legacy on his play at the Ryder Cup. This was his most emotional Cup yet, as he has been suffering through one of his worst seasons, on and off the course: He failed to qualify for the Ryder on points but made the team as one of Langer's two captain's picks, and he endured a divorce that played out in the British tabloids. Yet after clinching the win by defeating David Toms one-up, making him 502 alltime in Cup singles play, Montgomerie offered insight into Europe's dominance. "Personally, it means nothing, O.K.?" Monty said. "This is all about the team. That putt was not for me at all."

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