The 2018 Ryder Cup golf matches are long gone, the Europeans basking in another thrashing of the United States. While the final score was embarrassing enough for the top golfers in the world from the U.S., the United States Ryder Cup team found a way to embarrass their country even more after the fact.
Make no mistake about it, nobody likes to lose. But, an event like the Ryder Cup is so much bigger on the sports stage than just winning and losing. Like the Olympics, the Cup matches represent an opportunity for the world’s best to bring unity to their country, to give sports fans in Europe and the United States a chance to take pride in their country. Of course, that is until you don’t take pride in your country.
For years, word out of Europe is that the Americans were too selfish to really appreciate the magnitude of an event like the Ryder Cup. Prevailing wisdom is that the United States players are so full of themselves they cannot possibly know what it is like to put team and country first. That wisdom has never been more on display then it was in the 24 hours following the loss in France.
First, there were reports out of France that, at the Ryder Cup afterparty, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka almost went to blows. Apparently, the subject of the argument was DJ’s fiancée, Paulina Gretsky. One European wife noted “I was shocked at the nastiness of it all.” Since then, Koepka has denied the report and we haven’t heard a peep from Johnson which, under the circumstances, is smart. Johnson has a long history of substance abuse and his girlfriend has a long history of starting trouble. It is a guarantee that the incident involved alcohol and the fact that Gretsky had started trouble with Johnson before he even got on the plane to France. Several reports had her not showing up at all. In fact, at one sports book in Las Vegas, you could make a bet on whether or not Gretsky would be in France for the matches.
The next morning, the jerk of all jerks on Tour, Masters champ Patrick Reed, popped off to the New York Times about Jordan Spieth and American captain Jim Furyk. Reed, known to have no filter when it comes to running his mouth, expressed surprise and anguish that he wasn’t paired with Spieth, who he had a long history of success with in team matches. Then, he ripped into Furyk for his team decisions, most notably sitting Reed twice during the three day matches. None of this went over well with anyone, especially those who love golf in America. Spieth went 3-1 while paired with Justin Thomas, while Reed had trouble breaking 80 on the very tough Le National.
You can dismiss Reed’s comments as just another example of why this guy doesn’t get it. This is the same Reed who, a few years ago, asked his wife to have his parents escorted off the course at the U.S. Open. The same guy who won the Masters while his Mom and Dad sat at home, 5 miles from August National. The guy has one friend in the world, and that is the girl he is married to. Between them, they have done plenty to embarrass the golf community with their arrogance, but it was never more evident than it was the morning after the Ryder Cup. Reed is a shining example of why the Europeans have dominated these matches for the last 20 years.
The dust up between Koepka and Johnson is more perplexing. Word has it that it was more of a spat between brothers than a major league row played out on the world stage. Koepka and Johnson are good friends; they spend a lot of time training together in Florida. But, what is surprising about this is that Koepka would let the Johnson/Gretsky drama play out to hurt his image. Koepka is a shining example of what American golf should be. Athletic, strong and, more importantly, humble, Koepka has burst on to the world stage with three major wins in two years. He comes across by all accounts as the clean-cut American boy. Regardless, the story about the fight between the two did two things — badly damaged Koepka’s image and reinforced the notion that American golfers, and U.S. athletes in general, are spoiled and feel entitled.
In my opinion, nobody really cared about the Ryder Cup until Tiger Woods came along. Before that, the American’s dominated and the event simply had no genuine significance on the world stage. Then, Sergio Garcia game along, followed by a slew of outstanding European talent, inspired by Wood’s greatness. All of the sudden, the teams from Europe starting dominating the United States, so the event became marquee sporting event in the world. The crowd in France can only be described as unbelievable, more like a college football crowd than a respectful golf crowd. But, that is what the Ryder Cup has become, a chance to showcase national spirit while cheering your team on, no different than the World Cup in soccer.
How big is it now?
A few years ago, the selfishness of the American’s was on full display when Woods and Phil Mickelson said they would not play in the Ryder Cup unless they received a percentage of the profits donated to their own charities. Think about that? I don’t want to represent my country unless you pay me more than what everyone else gets. Yep, you can thank the American Way for that one. But, the truth is the Ryder Cup now generates so much income that the players wanted a stake in it.
At the end of the day, the United States got their ass handed to them because they have a bunch of guys that care more about themselves then they do about their team. That has never been more evident than their behavior after the matches. They represented their country and just got outplayed, plain and simple. But, that wasn’t enough for them. They had to put their selfishness on full display and embarrass their country afterwards.