Slow start costly, English contingent flop: Europe's Ryder Cup defeat explained


Europe's run of success in the Ryder Cup came to an end on Sunday as the United States completed a 17-11 victory at Hazeltine.

Darren Clarke became only the second man this century, after Nick Faldo, to captain a European team to defeat in the biennial event.

We take a look at three of the main factors in Europe failing to follow up their victories at Celtic Manor, Medinah and Gleneagles.


Slow start proved costly

Although Europe fought back admirably in sessions two and three, they were unable to get in front at any point after suffering a stunning whitewash in Friday's opening foursomes.

Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose had proven unbeatable in the 2014 Ryder Cup, so it was a worrying sign for captain Clarke when his premier pairing were beaten by Jordan Spieth and the inspired Patrick Reed.

Lee Westwood looked well short of his best as he and fellow wildcard Thomas Pieters were thrashed in the anchor match, while the other two alternate-ball contests slipped from Europe's grasp over the closing holes, leaving the USA with a healthy cushion.

Pieters and Rory McIlroy went on to strike up a superb alliance for the remaining team matches, while Rafael Cabrera Bello also excelled for Europe on his debut.

However, in giving their opponents a four-point start, Europe simply left themselves with too much to do.


English players failed to deliver

Half of Europe's team at Hazeltine hailed from England, with veterans Westwood and Rose joined by four rookie compatriots in Matt Fitzpatrick, Andy Sullivan, Chris Wood and Danny Willett.

Yet the six-strong English contingent delivered a hugely disappointing return, mustering just three points from a possible 17.

Rose was able to win two matches out of five, his second point secured in partnership with Wood - who can feel he did himself justice after also pushing Dustin Johnson all the way in his only other outing.

Yet Fitzpatrick, Sullivan, Willett and Westwood were the only players on either team not to score and the performances of the latter duo were particularly disappointing.

Masters champion Willett was unable to bounce back after seeing his maiden Ryder Cup marred by inflammatory pre-event comments from his brother regarding American golf fans.

Westwood, meanwhile, endured a torrid time of things as he played terribly on day one before missing a tiny putt that would have secured a valuable half-point for Europe in the Saturday fourballs. He then lost the last three holes of his singles match with Ryan Moore to be beaten on the 18th, a result that confirmed the USA's triumph.


Two out of three were bad - Pieters the only wildcard to shine

If the performances of Westwood served as the biggest disappointment for Clarke, a close friend of the former world number one, Europe's captain also had reason to regret another of his wildcard picks.

Martin Kaymer, the man who holed the winning putt to round off the 'Miracle of Medinah' in the previous Ryder Cup to be played on American soil, managed just a solitary point from four matches this time around and that was gained after Europe had given up the trophy.

Kaymer twice suffered defeat alongside Sergio Garcia in the fourball format, while his sole foursomes outing, with Willett, resulted in a 5 and 4 thrashing at the hands of Brandt Snedeker and Brooks Koepka.

The German has not won a tournament since securing a second major title at the 2014 U.S. Open and appeared a shadow of his former self at Hazeltine.

Clarke could at least take some comfort from Pieters fully justifying his selection, the Belgian picking up four points - a record for a European rookie - to prompt predictions of future glory.