Golf Expert & Columnist
Andrew Coltart reflects on the good and the bad at the Ryder Cup
Last Updated: 23/12/16 8:01am
Sky Sports commentator Andrew Coltart reflects on a big win for Team USA in the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, and looks forward to Europe attempting to regain the trophy under Thomas Bjorn in 2018
The simple fact is the American team played better collectively than Europe did, and Davis Love III's side were deserved winners. Europe have holed more of the putts that matter over the last three contests, but this year it was Team USA's turn.
There were 24 of the very best players in the world on show, so there was never going to be much to choose between the two teams in terms of talent and ability. Tee to green, these guys are all at the peak of their form, but what it comes down to is which team gets their eye in on the greens.
The Americans backed up their long games with a lot of precise putting and the putts didn't drop for Europe, who were on the back foot following the devastating whitewash in the Friday morning foursomes.
Darren Clarke and his backroom team went to huge lengths to carve out a specific plan for the week, but it would have been difficult to stick to that plan after going 4-0 down.
He also had to rearrange his pairings for the first morning after Danny Willett, who was set to partner Lee Westwood in all probability, was left out due to "that" magazine article published earlier in the week.
Losing any session 4-0 is a huge kick in the guts and very hard to take, and it would have been a big shock to the system for captain Clarke and his team and, although they won the next two series, the Europeans couldn't quite claw their way back to parity.
One of the biggest surprises was Martin Kaymer, who went into the competition with some decent form and was paired with Sergio Garcia on the first morning. But they went down 4&2 to Jimmy Walker and Zach Johnson, and the heavy defeat for Westwood and Thomas Pieters in match four completed a miserable Friday morning.
Kaymer and Westwood were awarded two of the three captain's picks by Darren Clarke, and they were unable to step up to the plate in the way the skipper had hoped.
On the positive side, Pieters was a revelation and the way Europe responded to that 4-0 drubbing was impressive. It was testament to the versatility Clarke had with his pairings options and the strength of European golf.
Pieters put in a huge performance just to make the team, and winning four points for his team on his debut was fantastic.
Rafa Cabrera Bello also proved his match-play quality and looked a great foil for his fellow Spaniard Garcia. Their late fightback to snatch a half against Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth on Saturday morning was awesome.
Much has been said about the behaviour of the fans at Hazeltine, but I didn't see anything I didn't expect. The American galleries are passionate about their sport, and you have to remember it's not just golf fans who turn up for the Ryder Cup.
In Europe, we tend to be more specific about which sports we follow and attend. The majority of fans at a Ryder Cup in Europe will be golf fans, but that is not necessarily the case in America.
You expect a bit of hostility as the locals cheer on their team and, although there were a couple who over-stepped the mark, there was nothing out of the ordinary.
It's fair to say the crowd were more vocal than at Medinah, but they didn't come close to what I experienced at Brookline in 1999.
Bjorn steps up
Thomas Bjorn now has the task of trying to regain the Ryder Cup in France, and I feel he is absolutely the right man for the job. He has a tremendous amount of experience and success as both a player and a vice-captain for Europe. In fact, the defeat at Hazeltine was Bjorn's first in the competition in any capacity.
It was always going to be very difficult for any captain to follow in the footsteps of Paul McGinley, who did such a fantastic job to beat a strong American team at Gleneagles in 2014.
Clarke led his team against a USA unit that was better organised than ever before, with the advantage of home soil, and it was a tough ask to make it four wins in a row.
The responsibility now falls upon Bjorn, who has put in a vast amount of time in helping improve the European Tour and has assisted golfers at all levels in his position as chairman of the players' committee for many years.
Thomas has been a vice-captain four times at the Ryder Cup, he has captained Europe in the Seve Trophy, and he has been involved in team competitions over 20 times in his career.
He has the experience, the knowledge, and he understands the requirements of the players and the backroom staff for such a big event. I have no doubt the European team, under Thomas, will be thoroughly well prepared ahead of the next contest in 2018.
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