Sunday's Birdies and Bogeys

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Sunday's Birdies and Bogeys

September 27, 2014

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Birdie: Rory McIlroy

When the singles matches aligned to have McIlroy face off against his aspiring millenial rival Rickie Fowler, it had all the makings of a "more than a point" statement match. With that as context, consider McIlroy's 5 and 4 drubbing of Fowler as huge. In seeing a blue flag up on the board early, McIlroy's 11 teammate could take comfort knowing they needed just three more points to retain the Ryder Cup. And in making seven birdies and an eagle in 14 holes, the match reinforced the notion that when McIlroy is on, no one else comes close.

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Bogey: Team USA

Do we risk the obvious in saying the U.S. laid another egg in the Ryder Cup? Probably, but it merits stating again. Even on a Sunday when the Americans could at one point look up and see mostly red on the board, it was a mere tease of what could have been. Thanks in large part to its dreadful 0-6-2 showing in the two foursomes sessions, the U.S. put itself in a near-impossible spot, depriving golf of read drama on what should be its most exciting day.

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Birdie: Patrick Reed

On a Sunday when the United States was in desperate need of a kick in the pants, Reed did his part to stoke the fire. Heckled by the European crowd on the first tee, Reed, already one of the few bright spots for the U.S., answered with some inspired early golf. At one point, after halving the seventh hole with a birdie putt, Reed animatedly gestured to quiet the crowd, then came back to beat Henrik Stenson on the 18th hole to secure the first U.S. point. As Colin Montgomerie said on NBC, "If there were 12 Patrick Reeds on this team you wouldn't be down 10-6, I can assure you."

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Bogey: Patrick Reed

The only problem with playing on the edge is when you cross over it, which Reed arguably did with his seventh hole theatrics. That, along with his walking to the next tee before his opponent Henrik Stenson had even putted out, fueled charges of poor sportsmanship in an event that has tried to restore an underlying level of civility.

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Birdie: Jamie Donaldson

Much like his captain, Paul McGinley, did in 2002, Jamie Donaldson became the latest unlikely hero to clinch the winning point at a Ryder Cup for Europe. And he did it in spectacular fashion, sticking his approach shot to tap-in range on No. 15 to close out Keegan Bradley and the U.S. After taking 255 starts on the European Tour to earn his first win, the 38-year-old from Wales waited even longer to make his first Ryder Cup appearance. But he responded with two foursome wins with Lee Westwood and a 3-1 record in his debut.

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Bogey: Jordan Spieth

Tom Watson's youngest player had also become one of his few go-to golfers at Gleneagles, which is why he drew the first spot in the Sunday singles lineup and was asked to provide the Americans some glimmer of hope. For a while Spieth did just that, taking a 3-up lead over Graeme McDowell after five holes. But for the first time all week, the 21-year-old started to look like a rookie. A missed five-footer for birdie on the seventh hole, which would have given him a 4-up lead, was followed by two short misses that contributed to losing four straight holes from Nos. 10-13. As the match was slipping away, McDowell winning 2 and 1, so did any hope for the U.S.

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Birdie: Justin Rose

Has this guy missed a putt in the Ryder Cup since those last three holes at Medinah in 2012? Rose capped off an amazing week with a birdie on the final hole to earn a halve against Hunter Mahan in a match in which he was four down after seven holes. His four points led all players this week as he ran his career Ryder Cup record to 9-3-2. For all the talk of Ian Poulter, he might not even be England's "Mr. Ryder Cup" anymore after Rose's performance at Gleneagles.

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Bogey: Zach Johnson & Victor Dubuisson

Victor Dubuisson is Europe's next superstar, according to Graeme McDowell, and the singles matches saw him pitted against the gritty Zach Johnson. The match had the potential to make for a great dual, but instead, the final match on the lineup was left all but irrelevant. After hitting their opening tee shots, viewers at home didn't see another shot until the 11th hole, when the Ryder Cup was moments away from being won. With Dubuisson one of the apparent stars of the future, it's a shame his match didn't play more of a role.

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Birdie: Phil Mickelson

After sitting out an entire day of play at the Ryder Cup for the first time in his 10 appearances in the event, Mickelson bounced back with a 3-and-1 win over crowd favorite Stephen Gallacher. He also took his surprise benching well. After lobbying captain Tom Watson to play both in person and by text and getting turned down, Mickelson filled the role of cheerleader in the afternoon on the course and then leader in the team room at night. Golf Digest's Tim Rosaforte reported that Mickelson talked to each of the U.S. players on the eve of Sunday's singles. The pep talk didn't work, but it's more practice for when he gets to captain his own team some day.

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Bogey: Phil Mickelson

And then there was the press conference. For all of the goodwill Mickelson seemed to build on Saturday night and in his singles win on Sunday, he let it all slip away in the post-Ryder Cup session with the media. It was there, while seated alongside his 11 teammates -- and most importantly Tom Watson -- that Mickelson let rip with sharp opinions on the Ryder Cup captaincy. While he never quite called out Watson directly, Mickelson repeatedly referenced how much he preferred Paul Azinger's leadership in 2008, and noted how Watson didn't involve any players in important decisions. Perhaps Mickelson had a point in questioning Watson's methods. But it was a strange time to decide to go public.

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Bogey: Keegan Bradley

The breakout U.S. star of the 2012 Ryder Cup didn't bring the magic he showed at Medinah to Gleneagles. Things got off to a good start when he and buddy Phil Mickelson took down Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia on Friday morning, but Bradley didn't earn a point the rest of the week. He sat all of Saturday and then never got it going on Sunday, winning only one hole in a 4-and-3 loss to Jamie Donaldson.

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Birdie: European Assistant Captains

It's not easy to manage a team that, deep down, knows there's always a chance of choking away a big lead. How did McGinley and his assistants handle it? By creating a relaxed, go-lucky atmosphere, and never was that more evident than on the first tee on Sunday. The crowd cheered and laughed as Jose Maria Olazabal did a little dance, Sam Torrance made some jokes, and Miguel Angel Jimenez went through his stretching routine. It set the tone for what turned out to be a relaxed and clinical day for the Europeans.

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Birdie: Bubba Watson

On paper, Bubba went 0-3. That's an undoubtedly disappointing record for the two-time major champion, but in some ways, it's actually an unfortunate one. He didn't play all that badly on Friday but got next to no help from his playing partner, Webb Simpson. He lost that match 5-and-4, and then lost his four-balls match 3-and-2 the following day at the hands of a red-hot Justin Rose. Again, he played well on Sunday, but Martin Kaymer's 4-and-2 victory spoke more to the German's superb play than anything Bubba did. In all, it was a tough hand to play that probably deserved more.

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Bogey: Hunter Mahan

Playing in Sunday's fourth match, Mahan had an opportunity to get something positive going for the U.S. early and he did with birdies on five of the first seven holes to take a four-up lead on Justin Rose. But he made just two birdies after that and bogeyed the par-5 18th to let Rose earn a halve. "That was a full point the U.S. had to have," NBC's Johnny Miller lamented. Instead, with the half point, Mahan became just the sixth player since 1985 to blow a four-hole lead in a Sunday singles match.

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