Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Ryder Cup Recap

The power rankings format was so much fun for the preview that we're keeping it for Part 1 of the recap but re-adjusted based on how each player actually performed. Part 2 is going to cover how to fix the American road team for 2022 and that's where I'll cover the ill-conceived captain's picks and, more importantly, the half-witted point system that the PGA of America uses to make the eight automatic picks. It's going to involve some serious analytics and, once it's eventually posted, it's going to blow your mind and change the entire way you view the Ryder Cup for the five minutes you'll actually think about it over the next twenty-three months.

Here's the formula for today. I'm going regurgitate part of my take on each player from last week because I got a shocking amount of stuff right (wait until you see No. 21) and I think I'm at my best when being self-congratulatory which is probably why I spend so much time operating in that mode. 

1. (2) Francesco Molinari (Record: 5-0-0)

FGR Preview Take: Francesco is going to be a steady nagging pain in the ass for the Americans this weekend.

"Nagging" obviously didn't do it justice. It seemed like he split every fairway, hit every green below the hole and drained every putt inside of fifteen feet. I can't imagine how demoralizing it must've been to play against him. (Probably the equal opposite of how inspiring it was to play against Patrick Reed on Friday and Saturday). The top four handicap holes at Le Club National are 1, 7, 13 and 15 so, even if he had to give Phil two a side on Sunday, they would've been all square going into 17.    

2. (1) Justin Thomas (Record 4-1-0)

FGR Preview Take: If you were designing the perfect Ryder Cup player, he would be it. He's a fiery grinder who putts lights-out and makes birdie or better on over 25% of the holes he plays.

Yeah Rory gave away the singles match on the last hole but, in the lead-off role when there was still a sliver of hope, JT absolutely bisected two ominous fairways on 17 and 18 under max pressure. If the Americans ever figure-out the right equation on European soil, this guy is going to be at the center of it. He's the second coming of Raymond Floyd (Floyd never lost a Ryder Cup and went 3-1-0 in 1993 . . . when he was 51 years old).   

3. (7) Tommy Fleetwood (Record: 4-1-0)

FGR Preview Take:The guy is a birdie machine and he won on this course in 2017. He also strikes me as being a blast to play with. 

I originally had Fleetwood ranked higher (I swear) but then I thought I was going overboard with my "Who Cares if He's a Rookie?" theory so dropped him below Rory and Rosie. As for being a blast to play with, I left-out how much of a blast he is to root for (I couldn't help myself). 

4. (20) Henrik Stenson (Record: 3-0-0)

FGR Preview Take: If he's healthy and able to play at least three matches, the Americans could be a bit fucked.

Um, apparently he was healthy. It's inconceivable to me that Stenson has only won one major. He's got to be in the top five players ever with just one to his credit along with Dustin Johnson, Lanny Wadkins, Tom Weiskopf and 1874 British Open champion Mungo Park.

5. (22) Sergio Garcia (Past Record: 3-0-0)

FGR Preview Take: He needed the captain's pick because he dropped from 10th to 28th in the world this year and apparently not many players you've heard of got the memo about there being a tournament in Singapore considering the four guys who finished behind Sergio were Shaun Norris, Satoshi Kodaira, Danthai Boonma and Jazz Janewattananond (I did not make any of those names up).

Sergio played great and was then utterly classy, gracious and charming when interviewed during the celebration. I need to get over it. And someday I will. Maybe.

6. (5) Jordan Spieth (Record: 3-2-0)

FGR Preview Take: A lot of people were taking for granted the fact that the Spieth-Reed combo would continue to roll like they're Ollie and Seve or Torvill and Dean (classic ice dancing reference dude!) but nothing is forever in this world, especially not in golf. If Jim Furyk does break them up to give Thomas a comfortable pairing and to put someone with Tiger who will thrive under the pressure and the sheer on-course insanity, count me in until it fails miserably and I eviscerate him for it next week.

Well I got part of it right. How about Spieth in the singles though? He can now add a 5 & 4 flogging courtesy of Thorbjorn Oleson to his other two singles match defeats at the hands of Stenson and Graeme McDowell. I guess he's just more of a duet guy. And who can blame him?   

7. (17) Webb Simpson (Record: 2-1-0)

FGR Preview Take: Their [Webb and Bubba] clubs have Jesus in them. I mean everyone's clubs have some Jesus in them but theirs have a lot more.

Webb needed to share some of the Jesus with his teammates this week. Even if it would've made Partrick Reed's head do a complete 360.

8. (4) Justin Rose (Record: 2-2-0)

FGR Preview Take: As for Rose, he's playing great and I would imagine that everyone on the team would be happy to be his partner because he seems very supportive and complimentary (you should take note). 

Rose was solid and played well when it mattered partnering with Stenson to take down DJ/Fowler and DJ/Koepka in foursomes. His only losses were against Tony Finau and Webb Simpson. Just bad luck to run-up against two of the four Americans who decided to actually show-up.

9. (18) Tony Finau (Record: 2-1-0)

FGR Preview Take: Holy shit Tony Finau is a secret agent!

A pretty solid prediction considering that he was the most underappreciated of the four American players with a winning record. His dismantling of Fleetwood early on Sunday when they needed to put red numbers on the board is one of the only positive factors that should be considered when assembling future teams. That and the fact that he seems to be one of the few Americans who stays above the 8th grade drama that seems to pervade the rest of the team.   

10. (10) Ian Poulter (Record: 2-2-0)

FGR Preview Take: If there is one guy you can count-on raising his game by 25% at the Ryder Cup, it's this asshole.

His two losses came on Saturday and both were against Spieth and Thomas so you could argue that he took a couple for the team but that would mean painting Poulter in a favorable light and who wants to do that?   

11. (6) Alex Noren (Record: 2-1-0)

FGR Preview Take: So Noren is a great putter and he loves the golf course. 

"I'll never forget when I first saw them
together and Bryson was holding Phil's
hair while he puked. It was pure magic."
Noren and Garcia made six birdies in fourteen holes playing alternate shot on Friday. Not that they needed them playing against Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau who were like a doomed bride and groom with their wedding party making over/under bets at the rehearsal dinner (the number would be 2.5 months, all the action would be on the under and Jim Furyk would be the buffoonish guy making a grandiose disconnected from reality toast about how he was the one who set them up).

12. (3) Rory McIlroy (Record: 2-3-0)

FGR Preview Take: Just so it doesn't seem like I'm trying to be a total dick, I'll agree 100% with Rob on Rory (you're not fooling anyone).

That's what I get for agreeing with the guy from If Rory had just putted like mediocre Rory, the Americans wouldn't have cracked double digits. 

13. (23) Paul Casey (Past Record: 1-1-1)

FGR Preview Take: He seems like a nice guy but I feel like this moment might be a little too big for him. I bet he plays two matches including a nice benign 4th or 5th slot in the singles and goes 0-1-1 at best while Thomas Pieters and his potential 2-1-1 sits at home.

Casey opened by hitting his second shot into the water (how great was that opening hole by the way?) and I cackled to myself because I was so right about the moment being too big for him. He then went on to make like seven birdies in that match and only lost it one down because Spieth made every putt he looked at. From that point on he went 1-0-1 so I can suck on that.  

14. (15) Thorbjorn Oleson (Record: 1-1-0)

FGR Preview Take: In other words, Oleson delivers a powerful thrust off the tee and maintains a pulsating energy down the fairway climaxing in ecstasy at the green. Someone get the crowd a cigarette.

Oleson played well in his fourball loss and then put an ever-loving beatdown on Spieth in the singles which I think was a bit of a message to future Euro captains that "(1) I'm only 28 years old and (2) don't ever fucking sit me for three matches again!"

15. (11) Brooks Koepka (Record: 1-2-1)

FGR Preview Take: He's at it again this week with visions of Koepka and DJ frollicking in wrestling singlets.

I actually wrote this last week before we knew what happened on the plane. What I want to know now is who broke it up? We had a similar situation in college when the two biggest guys in the dorm got into a drunken heated political debate that turned violent (seriously). It took six of of us to break it up and three of the six walked away with either a black eye or a bloody lip (that was me). My guess is that Tiger, Justin Thomas, Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar jumped-in quickly, Phil Mickelson acted like he was going to get involved but never intended to and a couple other guys got very emotional while pleading "come on guys."    

16. (9) Jon Rahm (Record: 1-2-0)

FGR Preview Take: How exactly is Garcia going to mentor Rahm? "You see Jon, you pout like this and then spit in the cup like this and later we'll discuss how to complain about the way the weather only affects you." 

This was in reference to the facile prediction by that Rahm would be "mentored by and paired with Garcia." They were never paired together. Maybe because Thomas Bjorn applied a more sophisticated strategy than just "hey wait, these two guys have the same accent." 

17. (8) Patrick Reed: (Record: 1-2-0)

FGR Preview Take: If you're an American who feels guilty because you're secretly rooting for the Euros, just think of it as rooting against Patrick Reed instead. 

For obvious reasons, I like to think there's a difference between frequently acting like a dick and actually being a dick. Either way, Patrick Reed is definitely the latter. I'll let me from 4:00 a.m. on Friday finish that thought.
18. (21) Tyrrell Hatton (Record: 1-2-0)

FGR Preview Take: I think Rob is trying to be diplomatic here by calling Hatton "the energetic Englishman" instead of "the dickhead." 

Fittingly he got matched-up against Reed on Sunday so I could end the weekend rooting for my least favorite European.

19. (24) Bubba Watson (Record: 1-2-0)

FGR Preview Take: Bubba absolutely earned his way onto the team but now it's time for Furk to have the awkward conversation about him only playing twice or maybe once. 

At one point late in the weekend Johnny Miller was doing a quick recap and said something to the effect of "Bubba looks like he hasn't decided if he even wants to be here" which was spot-on because it's not like he looked miserable but he didn't look like he was having any fun either. He's now 2-8-0 when they play this thing overseas. What if we just promised Bubba that he can play the next five times the Ryder Cup is in the states if he sits-out the Europe trip? Which side says no to that deal?  

20. (12) Rickie Fowler (Record: 1-3-0)

FGR Preview Take: I do, however, think that this is the year he plays well and makes a really solid contribution like say a 2-1-1 record because the stupid 2-3 holes he plays every round will get erased in match play and also because it's not a major (see Colin Montgomerie).

Rickie's career Ryder Cup record just dropped to 3-7-5. That Montgomerie reference may have been overly optimistic.  

My face every time I saw
Jim Furyk's next line-up.
21. (13) Dustin Johnson (Record: 1-4-0)

FGR Preview Take: His career 3-0 singles record is a little deceptive because those matches were against Chris Wood, Nicolas Colsaerts and Martin Kaymer with the Kaymer match being the only one you'd describe as a good win. 

And right on cue he sleepwalks through a singles loss to Ian Poulter who he should smoke at least four out of five times.

22. (14) Tiger Woods (Record: 0-4-0)

FGR Preview Take: I can assure you of two things: (1) all eleven of Tiger's teammates would say they want to play with him; and (2) almost half of them would be lying. Why would you want to play with a guy who's combined record in Ryder Cup Fourballs and Foursomes is 9-16-1?

Well now you can make that 9-19-1. At least Tiger looked like he was trying to win even if he appeared to be in a constant state of NyQuil overdose. I give him an almost full pass for everything but his singles loss after the Tour Championship win and the fact that Furyk rolled him out there in the worst possible two-man circumstances. It actually makes me feel bad for Tiger that everyone thinks he always wants to play with a dick.  

23. (16) Bryson DeChambeau (Record: 0-3-0)

FGR Preview Take: Don't forget that DeChambeau had one of the more convincing U.S. Amateur performances in 2015 which should come as no surprise because he's got two of the key traits of a great matchplay player: (1) he's methodical; and (2) his style of play annoys the shit out of his opponents.

Apparently it also annoys the shit out of his partners as he got drubbed 5 & 4 in both of his foursomes matches. I'm not sure how many people actually watched the end of his singles match when he stuck it to a foot on eighteen for what looked like the halve before Noren rolled-in a forty foot birdie putt for the win. It may have been the all-time most fitting inconsequential ending to a sporting event.    

24. (19) Phil Mickelson (Record: 0-2-0)

FGR Preview Take: He [Furyk] should just say "fuck it" and pair Phil with Bubba Watson in the first fourball match. If they win, great. If they lose, at least Furyk can say he tried and then bench them both until the singles. That would make for a fun Saturday subplot as Phil hung-around the course trying to draw attention to himself by doing karate kicks.

Good lord I called that one too . . . what an unmitigated clown show Mickelson has become.

But that wasn't even the most Mickelsonesque moment of the Ryder Cup. That honor goes to his new Callaway golf ball commercial which aired as part of that awesome split-screen coverage (thanks for trying NBC/Golf Channel but no) which aired just a few minutes after Europe clinched as you can see from the score on the left. Meanwhile, on the right Phil is telling us "I can do anything with this ball." Apparently he thought he could teach it to swim. 

Overall Prediction

FGR Preview Take: It just feels like the Euros are coming-in with more talent at the top and a bunch of solid chemistry pairings while the Americans have some very odd shaped pieces to make fit like Tiger, Bubba, Phil and DeChambeau as they transition from one generation to the next. 

Those four guys combined to go 1-11-0 and three of them were captain's picks so ask yourself this. If a guy who sporadically writes about fantasy golf along with thousands of other casual golf fans could so easily identify four of the biggest under-performers before the competition even started, then why can't the people in charge of assembling the team do it? I'll tell you why. Because they're not really interested in sending a winning team to Europe. I'm just going to leave that there as a tease for Part 2.      

Email the Fantasy Golf Report at

No comments: