Ryder Cup: Handing Out Grades to the American and European Players

October 3, 2016

The Americans beat the Europeans 17-11 to win the Ryder Cup for the first time in eight years. But who helped their respective teams the most? Sports Illustrated’s Gary Van Sickle hands out his grades.


Rickie Fowler (2-1-0)
Grade: B+
It’s funny how Rickie never looked like he was playing all that well, but he contributed two points to the U.S. effort. Hanging onto that singles point on the last two holes against Justin Rose was as big as it gets.

J.B. Holmes (1-2-0)
Grade: C+
He had a rough first session, but he played big on Saturday to win a point that blunted a European rally. He ran into a buzzsaw named Thomas Pieters in singles but gave him a fight.

Dustin Johnson (2-2-0)
Grade: B
He did what was needed, he won his singles point and luckily the fact that he was held out on Saturday morning didn’t come back to bite the Americans in the butt. Solid all the way around.

Zach Johnson (2-1-0)
Grade: B+
The Zach Attack won a singles point that wasn’t needed even though he was sick, and he was steady on a big course. This win is another footnote for his probable Hall of Fame bio.

MORE: Rory Contends With Hostile Hazeltine Crowd

Brooks Koepka (3-1-0)
Grade: A–
No one knew what to expect from the rookie. Well, now you know. He rebounded from a shank and won three points. Enough said. Stud.

Matt Kuchar (2-2-0)
Grade: B–
Kooch didn’t have his A game, but how about that bomb he made on Saturday afternoon from across the 13th green? That led to a big point. He needs to work on his touchdown dance, though.

Phil Mickelson (2-1-1)
Grade: A+
This was Phil’s finest hour in the Ryder Cup, maybe in his career. All the pressure was on him because of the Gleneagles fiasco, the task force, his apparent de facto captaining and his ill-advised comments about Hal Sutton early in the week. He snagged two wins, he helped Fowler steal a point when they had no business getting one against Rory, and he made 10 birdies to get a halve on a course that is by no means that easy.

Ryan Moore (2-1-0)
Grade: A
Moore didn’t play so great in Saturday four-balls until delivering a clutch tee shot and subsequent par at the 17th, and he competed a true Mongolian Reversal in singles when he was two down with three to play and swiped a W with an eagle-birdie-par finish to clinch the Cup. You score the winning point, you get an A.

Patrick Reed (3-1-1)
Grade: A+
He was this team’s heart and soul and fiery lava-provider. He carried Spieth for most of their last three matches—sorry, Jordan—and his Rory takedown was as uplifting for the Americans as it was demoralizing for the Europeans.

Brandt Snedeker (3-0-0)
Grade: A+
After his putting display in Saturday foursomes, it was a crime he didn’t go back out in the afternoon. Loved his emotion, his determination and his play—he was a pocket Patrick Reed.

Jordan Spieth (2-2-1)
Grade: B+
It was a microcosm of his year—he played good but not great and with a partner other than Reed might have had a losing mark. However, give him credit for setting the tone in the first match of the competition against the formidable Rose-Stenson duo.

Jimmy Walker (1-2-0)
Grade: C
He wasn’t as rock-solid steady as he was at Gleneagles in 2014, but he had his moments. He made six birdies in singles and, sheesh, still lost 3 and 2, to Rafa Cabrera-Bello.

Davis Love, captain
Grade: A
He captained by committee, and you can only judge a manager by the results. The Americans won, so all indications are that he captained brilliantly.


Rafa Cabrera-Bello (2-0-1)
Grade: A
He was so sharp, captain Darren Clarke had to be kicking himself for not getting the Spaniard out in at least one more match, probably Saturday afternoon after his star turn that morning with Sergio Garcia in foursomes. He seemed immune to pressure.

Matthew Fitzpatrick (0-2-0)
Grade: D–
The youngster had a few bright moments in Saturday morning foursomes, but he killed his team when he hit into the water at the 16th and effectively lost the match. If the anchor singles match had been pivotal, he was never going to get Zach Johnson.

Sergio Garcia (1-2-2)
Grade: B+
It’s hard to fathom how Sergio only won once. He played some of the best golf of his career, notably in that singles classic against Phil Mickelson. Yes, he did have a few putting miscues, but he also holed plenty and looked like a young Sergio. Good stuff.

Martin Kaymer (1-3-0)
Grade: C
Based on the rough first session he had, it was surprising he got two more games. He did rally for a singles win, but that came after the Cup had been clinched.

Rory McIlroy (3-2)
Grade: A
Rory was a one-man tornado, playing with the fierce determination of Seve Ballesteros. It took a Patrick Reed storm to finally stop him. Anybody think Rory isn’t going to win multiple majors in 2017?

Thomas Pieters (4-1)
Grade: A+
This Belgian by way of the University of Illinois was the man of the match for Europe. If Andy Sullivan hadn’t dunked a shot into the water at 17 in foursomes the first morning, Rory might not have been paired with him in the afternoon, but as the Ryder Cup slogan goes, A Legend Was Forged. It would have been an impressive week for a veteran, much less a rookie.

Justin Rose (2-3-0)
Grade: B
The Olympic champ didn’t have his A game and had stretches where the putter went cold. He pushed Fowler to the brink in singles, but couldn’t get the point.

Henrik Stenson (2-3-0)
Grade: B+
The Swede played well on a bad knee. A few missed putts hurt, but he was positioned to win four points, it just didn’t happen. A gutsy effort.

Andy Sullivan (0-2-0)
Grade: D
He played mostly solid with Rory until losing the foursomes match at 17 on the first morning, and he gave Snedeker a game in singles. But the early miscue loomed large, clearing the way for a 4-0 U.S. sweep, and Sullivan rode the pine until Sunday.

Lee Westwood (0-3-0)
Grade: F
Clarke was forced into using one of his picks on a veteran because he already had six rookies on the roster, but Westwood’s short-putting woes haunted him. They started with an 18-incher he missed out of the gate on Friday morning and culminated with a short miss at the home hole on Saturday afternoon, turning a potential two-point deficit into a three-point hole for the Europeans.

Danny Willett (0-3-0)
Grade: F
Did his brother’s anti-American rant throw him off his game or was the Masters champ playing poorly coming in? Maybe both, but Willett was one of the pillars Europe was counting on, and he was out of ammo before he even struck his first shot on Friday afternoon.

Chris Wood (1-1-0)
Grade: C+
Here’s another guy, along with Cabrera-Bello, that Euro fans maybe wished they had seen in more games. Wood looked strong in a singles loss to Dustin Johnson. That Friday morning foursomes shutout probably kept Wood from seeing action sooner, and that’s too bad.

Darren Clarke, captain
Grade: C
That 4-0 American sweep at the start waylaid all of his plans, and he never got his pairings in order. Forced to front-load in singles, he sent four rookies out in the final six matches and they lost all four points. So any front-end rally would’ve been fruitless. That said, Clarke was pleasant, looked like a middle-aged Sean Connery and gave good sound bites.