1. Monty. Captain Charisma dwarfed his diminutive American counterpart, charming the press, firing up the crowds and, most importantly, morphing into a latter-day Churchill in the team room with stirring oratory and a palpable we-have-nothing-to-fear vibe. I wish I could hate Monty, but it’s just not possible. Especially today.
2. G-Mac. A stud in team play and then a hero in the end, McDowell took on the suffocating pressure with courageous shot-making. An Open at Pebble and now the man of the match at the Ryder Cup? Not a bad few months!
3. Mild-mannered Cheesehead. Steve Stricker carried Tiger to two wins and then, in one of the week’s most macho performances, led off the singles by beating the world’s best player in an absolute thriller. We knew Stricks was good, but it was a blast to see him turn into a cold-blooded killer.
4. Jeff Overton. He was the breakout personality of the Cup. Where can I get my “Boom, baby!” t-shirt?
5. Bad hair. Both Rory and Rickie struggled at times but showed massive cojones in fighting back to steal halves in their singles matches. Special shout-out to Fowler’s incredible four-birdie finish. There are very, very few players in the world who could have made that putt on 18. I am now, at long last, a believer.
1. Corey Pavin. Where to begin? He was Nixonian with the press: paranoid, awkward and smug. On the golf course the one-time Bulldog displayed zero passion; he may have been trying to radiate calm but instead appeared overwhelmed. He was no better in the team room. One insider described him as, “very even-keeled. Maybe a little too even-keeled.” The raingear didn’t repel rain, the lilac cardigans didn’t fit, and his opening and closing speeches induced narcolepsy. Finally, he put Mahan, a momentum player who’s not known for battling it out when things go bad, in the anchor match. (I’d much rather have had the noted scrapper Zach Johnson, who went off 11th.) Pavin enjoyed only one bit of good luck: the singles rally changed the narrative of the Cup and prevented him from getting absolutely B-B-Q’ed by the golf world.
2. Jim Furyk. The putative team leader was trusted with the third spot in singles but blunted the Americans’ early surge with an ugly loss that included making a mess of the 18th hole. Furyk is always celebrated as a tough competitor, but his 0-2-1 misadventure in Wales drops his Ryder record to a desultory 8-15-4.
3. Phil. His strong play in singles only highlighted how weak he had been as a partner, going 0-3. Phil the Thrill was once among the Americans’ most dynamic Ryder Cuppers, with an 8-5-3 record in his first four appearances. In the four since, he’s a this-must-be-a-misprint 3-12-3. Why has the U.S. lost six of the last eight Ryder Cups? Mickelson and Furyk deserve much of the blame.
4. Paddy. Capt. Montgomerie made a stirring case for Harrington’s behind-the-scenes leadership — along the way justifying a controversial captain’s pick — and the likeable Irishman did somehow put two points on the board, but his play alternated between shaky and atrocious. Have we witnessed the end of the Paddy era?
5. Hunter. It was a big ask to beat the reigning U.S. Open champ as he was being propelled by a giddy crowd and the ghost of Seve, but Mahan, ordinarily one of golf’s most explosive players, managed only one birdie in 17 holes. Hopefully this disappointment steels him to achieve his considerable potential. We’ll see.