Europe captain JosÃ© MarÃa OlazÃ¡bal and USA captain Davis Love III arrive for the 2012 Ryder Cup closing ceremony. Photograph: Paul Childs/Action Images
Captain Davis Love III questioned over controversial call to rest successful pairing of Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley
The USA slumped from a 10-6 lead after the second day to a 14 1/2-13 1/2 defeat. The only time such a turnaround had happened before was at Brookline in 1999, when it was the US who mugged Europe.
Jim Furyk, who played at Brookline and Medinah, said: “How does this compare to ’99? Well, that was fun. This was pretty miserable.”
Furyk’s words were as eloquent as any American could produce, as they sat through the tournament’s closing ceremony and press conference grim-faced.
The USA captain, Davis Love III, said: “It wad certainly a difficult loss. I think any Ryder Cup loss is difficult. It’s never fun any way it happens. It was certainly not what we expected.
“I’d have to say I’m very proud of this team, though. We had a lot of guys today that played well and just got beat. They got beat by some holed putts, chip-ins, some incredible shots, and some matches got flipped at the end on long putts and great saves by the other team. I have to congratulate them on the way they played.”
Love faced criticism for his decision to bench the dynamic pairing of Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley after they had won their first three matches. The captain admitted: “In hindsight we would have done things differently.”
But Mickelson interrupted his captain to explain that it had been his call: “Keegan and I knew going in [to the morning session] that we were not playing in the afternoon and we said on the first tee we are going to put everything we have into this one match because we are not playing the afternoon.
“I said [to Love], listen, you’re seeing our best, you cannot put us in the afternoon, because we emotionally and mentally are not prepared for it. And I know you’re going to get pressure because we’re playing so good. But we have other guys that are dying to get out there and we have mentally put everything into this match, we won’t have anything later and so you need to stay to our plan. So you cannot put that on him. If anything it was me.”
Tiger Woods faced questions about why he had conceded a putt on the very last hole, when USA could still have tied the event 14-14 â€“ although that would not have been enough to win back the cup.
“It was already over,” Woods said. “We came here as a team. This is a team event. And the cup had already been retained by Europe, so it was already over. Just get this over with and, you know, congratulations to the European team. They played fantastic and they deserve the cup.”
The younger team members spoke as little as possible. Bradley said: “It was a difficult day for most of us. It was really neat coming back into the team room and having everybody kind of come together and let each other know that we all had each other’s backs.”
Steve Stricker said: “Disappointing but still a great experience. I love all these guys. We all played well, I thought, very well all week and just came out on the short end.”
Love returned to the parallels with 1999: “I thought about it when we put our pairings together. I thought about it when I woke up in the morning. I know what we felt like going into it [in 1999], and you know, the stunning defeat that they [Europe] had that day. We knew that they remembered that as well. So I tried to remind the guys that the tournament was not over yet, points-wise.
“I’m sure there’s a lot of great plans in a lot of sporting events that sound really good the night before, before the game starts, and then there’s a fumble or a turnover or something happens and it doesn’t work. What didn’t work here is they played a little bit better than us and got some momentum and made it tough.”