A 16 ½ to 11 ½ victory last month in Gleneagles, Scotland, gave the European Team its eighth win in 10 outings against the United States in the Ryder Cup.
Despite the return captaincy of Tom Watson and playing on a course designed by American icon Jack Nicklaus, the founder and host of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide, the U.S. squad couldn’t mount a final-day singles comeback on the order that Europe achieved two years earlier at Medinah Country Club, near Chicago.
Led by rookies Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, the Americans made it interesting, for a few hours, on the final day in singles competition but in the end Europe’s 10-6 lead (the same lead the U.S. had in 2012) was simply too big and the Europeans were simply playing too well.
“The boys had to dig deep today,” said Ian Poulter, who went 0-1-2 for the week as a captain’s pick of Paul McGinley. “The Americans were coming at us strong. The board looked very good for them for a long period of time.”
The momentum turned on the very first match out when Spieth, who teamed with Reed to go 2-0-1 in team play, lost a 3-up lead to Graeme McDowell, who eventually triumphed, 2 and 1. Two-time major winner Rory McIlroy, the No. 1 player in the world, played 14 holes in 8 under par to dispatch Rickie Fowler, 5 and 4.
Reigning U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer chipped in for the 13th point, a 4-and-2 win over Masters champion Bubba Watson. Justin Rose, the 2010 Memorial winner, halved his match with Hunter Mahan to make it 13 ½ points for Europe, and Jamie Donaldson put the home team over the top when he defeated former PGA champion Keegan Bradley 4 and 3 as the home team retained the Ryder Cup.
Unfortunately for the U.S., bringing on five-time British Open winner Tom Watson, a two-time Memorial winner, proved to not help end its recent struggles. America hasn’t won abroad since the ’93 team captained by Watson, who saw his team fall behind because it was beaten soundly in foursomes, 7-1, with only a half-point scored each day in that format.
“That’s where we lost it,” Watson conceded afterward.
In other matches involving past Memorial winners, Matt Kuchar, the 2013 victor, beat Thomas Bjorn, 4 and 3, while Jim Furyk, the 2002 Memorial winner, lost to Sergio Garcia, 1 up.
“In the end,” said Mahan, “we got beat by guys who were playing better.”
The U.S. team next year travels to Korea to attempt to extend its winning streak in the Presidents Cup in a competition in which it has been much more successful. America has won the last four against an International Team, including last year at Muirfield Village Golf Club, and its only defeat in the biennial competition occurred in 1998 in Australia. The 2015 Presidents Cup is being contested at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea, in Songdo, Incheon City, South Korea.