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  • Alistair Tait

Ryder Cups Are All About Putting

Updated: Sep 28, 2021

Europe shouldn’t push the panic button after losing the Ryder Cup, even if it was the heaviest defeat in the modern era.

Europe just needs to hole more putts. A lot more.

Ryder Cups are all about putts made, and Europe just didn’t make enough of them at Whistling Straits.

Simple as that.

I’d love to know the total yardage in putts made this Ryder Cup. The Americans seemed to hole everything they looked at while Europe just couldn’t buy a birdie. Rory McIlroy is living proof of that.

As Global Golf Post’s Scott Michaux points out, McIlroy leads the PGA Tour in birdie average, but didn’t make one in two four-ball sessions with Shane Lowry and Ian Poulter. Not. One.

Other than Spaniards Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm over the first two days, most of the Europeans couldn’t get the ball in the hole either. The Americans had no problem on that front. Every time you looked they were draining putts when it mattered.

Nigel Edwards captained three Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup teams. His message to all three teams was the side that holes out better wins international team matches. That’s true whether it’s the Walker, the Curtis, the Solheim and, yes, the Ryder Cup.

And against a strong team like the one Steve Stricker captained at Whistling Straits, holing putts is crucial. Europe failed to do that and got hammered as a result.

Quite why the Europeans struggled to make putts when it mattered is complete mystery considering the majority of them compete in the United States on a regular basis. Quick greens shouldn’t come as a shock to the system.

Yes, American captains set the courses up to favour their teams just as European captains do likewise, but let’s not buy into this idea that quicker putting surfaces helps the Americans more than it helps us. After all, McIlroy has won three of his four majors in America. There was no rhyme or reason as to why he struggled the first two days, other than he had a bad week on the greens.

Did Padraig Harrington make mistakes? Of course he did. But he wasn’t the one having to hole putts to match an extremely strong American team. Even if he’d changed some of his pairings, played a pumped up Shane Lowry more often, Europe would still have struggled given the abject performance on the greens compared to the Americans.

There will be those who say Europe has to get its act together and quick so it doesn’t suffer the same fate in Rome. That’s a full two years from now. Yes, there will be a slight changing of the guard with the likes of Westwood, Poulter, maybe Casey, having perhaps played for the last time for Europe. But most of this team will still be around.

"There are young guys in this team that will be the heart of the team going forward," Harrington said. "Jon Rahm, clearly; Viktor (Hovland); these are young guys that will be there for a long time. But there's a good heart to the team.
"We would look to young guys coming in over the future but the heart of this team will be here for a few more years for sure. They haven't got to their peaks yet, so we should see some strength going forward.
"We'll draw lessons from this week but most of these guys were winning in Paris, so there's still quite a winning mentality there going forward."

McIlroy will certainly be back, so will Garcia and Rahm. Lowry, Hovland, Hatton, Fleetwood, Fitzpatrick, Wiesberger will still be competing for places.

That’s a pretty good nucleolus considering there are a bunch of promising youngsters waiting in the wings – Bob MacIntyre, the Højgaard twins Nicolai and Rasmus, Matthias Schwab, Thomas Detry, Sam Horsfield, Aaron Rai and others. And who knows what hotshot, Hovland-like player(s) will emerge onto the world scene from the European Challenge Tour ranks, American college golf or amateur golf two years from now to challenge for a place(s).

However, the bottom line remains: the team that holes more putts wins international golf matches. Simple as that.

America did that better at Whistling Straits and deserve to be lauded for a brilliant performance and a fantastic victory.

Roll on Rome.

#JustSaying: “I love being a part of this team. I love my teammates so much, and should have done more for them this week. … I can’t wait get another shot at this.” Rory McIlroy


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