How the 2012 Ryder Cup was won Part Two: The Players & Captains

In Part Two of our review of how the 2012 Ryder Cup was won, we take a look at the performance of each of the players, reviewing their individual statistics and performances on the course during the three incredible days of action which saw Europe turn almost certain defeat, into a stunning victory on the final day at Medinah, winning by an incredible scoreling of 14.5 to 13.5 after being 10-6 behind going into the final days singles matches.

 

1. Team USA

1. Keegan Bradley  (2012 stats: P4  W3  L1  H0  Pts Scored – 3)

America can be proud of their Ryder Cup rookies and Keegan Bradley, when paired with Phil Mickelson during the first two days, seemed unbeatable. He claimed three points from his first three games and was arguably the finest player in either team over the opening two days. It took typical Rory McIlroy brilliance to put an end to his winning streak on Sunday in the singles. A stunning performance from a player who should go on to become a stalwart of this team for many years. : A fabulous Ryder Cup for the former USPGA Champion and he can hold his head high: Rating  9/10

2. Jason Dufner (2012 stats: P4  W3  L1  H0  Pts Scored – 3)

The laconic Dufner may seem to cut a disconsolate or even dishevelled figure at times, but this Ryder Cup rookie proved his worth to the American team. He got in front early in his singles against Peter Hanson and returned a point for the American team at a key time. Two more points secured in the opening two days saw him finish tied as America’s top point scorer. Another player who should go on to become a key player for the US team in future competitions. : His play wasn’t as spectacular as Bradley’s, but Dufner got the points when it mattered too: Rating  8.5/10

3. Brandt Snedeker (2012 stats: P3  W1  L2  H0  Pts Scored – 1)

Snedeker came into the competition as FedEx Cup winner and started like a $10m player. His partnership with Jim Furyk yielded one win, over the Irish pair of McIlroy and McDowall but on Sunday Snedeker ran into a Scottish steamroller in Paul Lawrie and fatigue seemed to take its toll as the Scotsman strolled to a 5&3 win. Always dangerous on the green, this won’t be Snedeker’s last Ryder Cup by any means.  : Snedker never got going against Lawrie on the final day and his 5&3 loss will hurt, but after a hectic two weeks, fatigue was only to be expected: Rating  6.5/10

4. Phil Mickelson (2012 stats: P4  W3  L1  H0  Pts Scored – 3)

He’s often been criticised for not playing to his best in Ryder Cup matches, but this time around nobody can level that criticism at Mickelson. In partnership with Keegan Bradley he was the part of the American teams most outstanding foursomes and fourballs pairing, winning all three of their matches. In the singles, he came unstuck however against an inspired Justin Rose who holed an incredible putt on 17 to gain the advantage in their game and inflict a telling blow against the US team. That said, that defeat by 1 hole was Mickelson’s only loss in the entire three days. : Mickelson improved his Ryder Cup standing here and answered a few of his critics doing so: Rating  8/10

5. Steve Stricker (2012 stats: P4  W0  L4  H0  Pts Scored – 0)

Stricker’s inclusion as a captains pick was seen universally as a no-brainer by many pundits. His partnership with Tiger Woods in particular had served America well in the past and was expected to do so here. Unfortunately, it turned into something of a nightmare for the likeable Stricker as Woods struggled with his game, Stricker spent plenty of mental and physical energy trying to keep his team in their games. By Sunday, that effort took its toll as he succumbed to Martin Kaymer in the crucial penultimate singles game: A likeable man but a woeful Ryder Cup for Stricker, not helped by the fact he was paired with an out of sorts Tiger Woods three times in the opening two days: Rating  5/10

6. Tiger Woods (2012 stats: P4  W0  L3  H1  Pts Scored –  0.5)

A riddle wrapped in an enigma. Why the finest golfer the world has ever seen struggles so much in these competitions is beyond mortal comprehension. In short, this Ryder Cup was a disaster for Woods. At times, he showed flashes of brilliance, but he was equally likely to hit destructive shots as he was decisive ones. That he missed the putt to hand Europe the win seemed to sum up his entire tournament. Woods didn’t repay the faith his captain put in him and his half with Molinari was scant consolation to a team that needed a point in order to at least finish level: Yet another awful Ryder Cup for Tiger. Will he ever get to grips with this competition?: Rating  4/10

7. Zach Johnson (2012 stats: P4  W3  L1  H0  Pts Scored – 3)

Johnson has earned a reputation as one of the most reliable point scorers on the American team and his consistent play over all three days caused several European players endless problems. Hugely impressive in both foursomes and fourballs with Jason Dufner and he saw off Graeme McDowall too in the singles. Along with his namesake Dustin, he didn’t deserve to finish on the losing side this time around: A consistent and reliable player who excels under pressure: Rating  8/10

8. Dustin Johnson (2012 stats: P3  W3  L0  H0  Pts Scored – 3)

The only American with a 100% winning record in the competition, so it is something of a mystery that Johnson only played in three sessions out of the five. American’s will feel he was under-used on the first two days by the captain and that may be a good argument, especially seeing as Stricker and Woods played four sessions apiece. As impressive in the singles, winning 3&2 over Colsaerts, as he was the fourballs: Proved his worth to the team with an excellent performance and had he been used in just one more session, it may have turned the Ryder Cup America’s way: Rating  9/10

9. Webb Simpson (2012 stats: P4  W2  L2  H0  Pts Scored – 2)

Simpson started like a train on fire on the opening two days as he threw birdie after birdie at his beleaguered opponents. Bounced back well on Saturday after losing his foursomes to win the afternoon four ball but was up against an inspired Ian Poulter in the Sunday singles and despite holding an early two shot lead, lost by 2 holes to the Englishman in the second game out on course.: Simpson has nothing to be ashamed of given his performances here, at times he played unbeatable golf, especially in the opening day fourballs: Rating  7/10

10. Bubba Watson (2012 stats: P4  W2  L2  H0  Pts Scored – 2)

Bubba certainly got the crowd fired up and taking his shot to a barrage of noise at the first certainly broke new ground in the Ryder Cup. He was a good partnership with Webb Simpson, winning 2 points out of 3, but ran into an inspired Luke Donald in the crucial first game of the day and despite his extra distance from the tee, the Englishman’s accuracy proved critical: No player fired up the crowd like Bubba did, but his play was as erratic at times as it was inspiring at others: Rating  7/10

11. Matt Kuchar (2012 stats: P3  W2  L1  H0  Pts Scored – 2)

Kuchar was one of the more consistent players in the American team and returned two points from his fourballs partnership with Dustin Johnson. Perhaps they should have been used in the foursomes too as they proved too hot for Europe’s best to handle in the four ball format. Ran out of steam a little as Lee Westwood finally found his form on the greens on Sunday and that loss proved crucial in the end, swinging momentum firmly the way of Europe on Sunday afternoon: A solid performance from Kuchar and he has the game to be a top American player for many more Ryder Cup’s yet: Rating  7/10

12. Jim Furyk (2012 stats: P3  W1  L2 H0  Pts Scored – 1)

If one of the captain’s picks divided American commentators it was the inclusion of Furyk, and while the genial American never let his team down, he didn’t quite hit the heights that some of his other team mates reached. While not as inconsistent as Woods, Furyk’s record in Ryder Cup competition wasn’t improved after two defeats from three games, including a body-blow loss in the Sunday singles to Spanish ace Sergio Garcia by just 1 hole: Furyk has been reliable and dependable for the American team for many years, but perhaps this was just a Ryder Cup too far: Rating  6.5/10

Captain: Davis Love III

For two days, Davis Love III was going to be America’s most successful captain for many years. A 10-6 lead going into Sunday for the home team was rully deserved, perhaps even a little unfair given his sides level of dominance in the opening two days. It is hard too to find fault with Love’s picks for Sunday afternoon, with his ‘hot’ players going out first to counter the European charge. That they didn’t perform to the ridiculously high levels they did earlier in the week is not down to Love, just a combination of European brilliance, fatigue and perhaps a few less fortunate rolls of the ball: Take away Europe’s Sunday miracle and up until then Davis Love III had captained the American team almost perfectly. Love’s decisions didn’t lose America the cup on Sunday, but on reflection he may wish he’d played Stricker and Woods less and Johnson and Kuchar more on the opening two days: Rating  8.5/10

2. Team Europe

1. Rory McIlroy (2012 stats: P5  W3  L2  H0  Pts Scored – 3)

A better performance this time around from the World Number 1, his win over Keegan Bradley on Sunday, despite almost missing his tee time after a mix up over Central US time and Eastern time, may have even helped McIlroy settle into his game. He showed flashes of his brilliance at times and was generally consistent, but played a key role on Sunday on keeping European momentum going in the sungles.: Maybe failed to light up the competition as his talent could have done, but he was one of only two players to play all five sessions and you saw enough in them to realise why he is the best player in the world at the moment.: Rating  8.5/10

2. Graeme McDowell (2012 stats: P4  W1  L3  H0  Pts Scored – 1)

The hero of Celtic Manor in 2010 had to rely on his team mates this time around as McDowell struggled, earning just a single point over the three days. It wasn’t for the lack of effort either, the likeable Irishman put in as much effort as any player in the event, but it was just not ever going to be his tournament. He’ll be back in 2014 though and my money is on him improving on his points total next time around: Only earned one point when paired with McIlroy but will no doubt have been a huge influence on the team spirit in the dressing room: Rating  6/10

3. Justin Rose (2012 stats: P5  W3  L2  H0  Pts Scored – 3)

Perhaps the unsing hero of the European team this time around. Rose may have lost two of his five matches, but the ones he did win were absolutely vital, none moreso than turning around a losing position into a winning one when partnering Ian Poulter in the fourballs on Saturday afternoon. That point made it 10-6, instead of 11-5 and changed the course of the competition, as did his remarkable putt on 17 to get in front of American legend Phil Mickelson in a crucial singles clash: May have only won three of his five games but they were all absolutely crucial and at vital times for Team Europe: Rating  9/10

4. Francesco Molinari (2012 stats: P3  W0  L2  H1  Pts Scored – 0.5)

Hung in well against Tiger Woods on the final day and in winning the 18th, his half point (the only halved game in the entire competition) was enough to give Europe a win, rather than just retaining the trophy. The Italian struggled in his other games, losing them both but his performance on Sunday was vital to the team enjoying victory: A strong showing against Woods elevated this from a lower score after Molinari didn’t really impress during the opening two days: Rating  6.5/10

5. Luke Donald (2012 stats: P4  W2  L2  H0  Pts Scored – 2)

It’s fair to say that over the openign two days, we didn’t see the best of Luke Donald. Stymied by the course and its forgiving nature, Donald even seemed to lose his customary composure on the greens. Donald though isn’t a quitter and rallied superbly to win two of his four games, including the crucial opening singles match 2&1, to instil belief in his European team mates that the comeback really was on: Played the ‘Monty’ role on the final day to perfection, beating American crowd-cheerer Bubba Watson 2&1 and setting the tone for his team mates to follow. Monty would have been proud!: Rating  7/10

6. Martin Kaymer (2012 stats: P2  W1  L1  H0  Pts Scored – 1)

Like many European stars, we didn’t really see the very best of Kaymer on the opening two days. The German only played in one session, losing his Friday fourballs game when paired with Justin Rose. He was disappointed not to feature Saturday but produced a gritty display to earn the point that Europe needed to retain the trophy on Sunday afternoon. Still not as his best as is clearly evident, but this may spur him on to find his very best form once again: Showed great heart to bounce back after only featuring once on the opening two days to score the point that retained the cup for Europe against Steve Stricker: Rating  6.5/10

7. Peter Hanson (2012 stats: P2  W0  L2  H0  Pts Scored – 0)

The Swede has enjoyed a great year on tour and was hopeful of playing a key role for Europe, but it just didn’t happen for him. Comprehensively beaten in his Friday fourballs, Hanson’s chance to contribute next came on Sunday but he ran into trouble early against Jason Dufner and put himself in a very difficult position: Like Kaymer, this wasn’t Hanson’s best Ryder Cup but he did put up a spirited fightback on Sunday afternoon against Dufner, despite being four down at one stage: Rating  5/10

8. Paul Lawrie (2012 stats: P3  W1  L2  H0  Pts Scored – 1)

After a superb season, Paul Lawrie’s return to the Ryder Cup fold didn’t start too brightly with two defeats in two games on the first two days. On Sunday however, Lawrie rediscovered his touch with a blistering performance against USA’s Brandt Snedeker, winning his singles by the highest margin on the day and in some style: Scotland’s pride was restored thanks to Lawrie’s vital and impressive 5&3 win over Snedeker in the singles, a crucial point earned for his team at a vital time: Rating  7/10

9. Nicolas Colsaerts (2012 stats: P4  W1  L3  H0  Pts Scored – 1)

He may have lost his last three games, but Europe’s only rookie served notice of his skills on the opening day when he put in a masterclass display of putting. He finished ten under to earn Europe a point and his partner Lee Westwood admitted that Colsaerts played Stricker and Woods pretty much on his own: His putting display in the Friday fourballs was rated by Tiger Woods as the best he has ever seen. Colsaerts couldn’t keep up that extraordinary level, but still played a vital role for Europe in securing that point: Rating  7/10

10. Lee Westwood (2012 stats: P4  W2  L2  H0  Pts Scored – 2)

He may have secured two points from four, but Lee Westwood will reflect that this was not his best Ryder Cup. Partner Nicolas Colsaerts was chiefly responsible for the point they earned in the Friday foursomes, as Westwood struggled with his game. His struggles saw him miss a session on Friday but he bounced back on Sunday with a much improved display: Not Westwood’s greatest tournament in terms of performances, but he showed dogged determination to eke out a vital win in the singles on Sunday, impressively beating Kuchar 3&2: Rating  7/10

11. Ian Poulter (2012 stats: P4  W4  L0  H0  Pts Scored – 4)

Kaymer’s putt may have retained the cup for Europe, Molinari’s half won it, but this incredible European success was carried at times on the shoulders of one man. While all 11 of his team mates struggled against an American onslaught of birdies on the first two days, Poulter remained defiant. The turning point of the entire competition came late on Saturday night, when his breathtaking display over the final few holes overturned Dufner and Johnson’s lead and gave Europe an unlikely point: More than that, it gave the team back some belief and on Sunday Poulter was the embodiment of that, despite going two down early on to Webb Simpson he battled back to earn a 2 up victory on the 18th green.  I don’t mean this lightly; Ian Poulter’s individual performance in this Ryder Cup is arguably the best individual performance ever seen in the competition’s long and illustrious history. Yes he was that good and that important: Rating  11/10

12. Sergio Garcia (2012 stats: P4  W2  L2  H0  Pts Scored – 2)

As expected, Sergio played a key role for Europe. Now one of the older hands, he earned two vital points, the first with fourballs partner Luke Donald on Saturday night and most crucially in Sunday’s singles against Jim Furyk. Garcia’s game may not be at the standard it was a few years ago, but there are pointers as to him returning to his best: His point against Jim Furyk turned the tie Europe’s way for the first time in three days. It was a true battling performance, reminiscent of another Spanish hero, Seve Ballesteros: Rating  7.5/10

Captain: Jose-Maria Olazabal

Until Sunday morning, it hadn’t gone well for Jose. Yet it was hardly the fault of the Spaniard that the American team was playing inspired golf. Yet he kept plugging away, cajoling his team and spurring them on even when all seemed lost. Sunday’s performance may be down to many things, but Jose’s inspiring leadership was a key element. He never lost the belief that Europe could win, even when common sense said they could not. His tearful dedication of the win for his friend Seve at the end was as touching as it was heartfelt: An outstanding captain who has overseen the greatest comeback in golfing history and on American soil; a truly remarkable achievement: Rating 10/10

 

(All Pictures Courtesy of Team Europe & Team USA Ryder Cup Facebook pages)

 

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