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Top takeaways from 2018 Ryder Cup

Ian Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 Ryder Cup belongs to Europe. The home team overcame an early deficit and cruised to a rather decisive victory in France.

Two different Europeans — Francesco Molinari and Sergio Garcia — made Ryder Cup history in the week, while Molinari found himself a dream pairing. The American team didn’t have a lot of positives. But in defeat, it found a good pairing as well. Unfortunately, it also garnered yet another disappointing performance from its two most experienced players.

With the European victory sealed, these were the top takeaways from the 2018 Ryder Cup.

The drought lives on 

After a 3-1 opening session win, the Americans appeared to be well on their way to winning their first Ryder Cup on European soil since 1993. But Europe posted a 4-0 victory in the second session, winning all four matches convincingly. While a 5-3 deficit after one round is by no means insurmountable, Europe never looked back.

Maybe more Americans should have played in the Open de France. It’s hard to ignore that the one who did — Justin Thomas — was, by far, the most successful American player, going 4-1-0.

Whatever the reason, an American victory wasn’t meant to be. The European team was simply better, and not by a small amount. The Americans will try to regain the Cup at Whistling Straits in 2020, and will try to end what will be a 29-year European drought in Italy in 2022.

Sergio Garcia, the greatest Ryder Cup player in history?

Sergio was anything but a slam dunk captain’s pick. His game was not on point in 2018. The best proof of that came when he missed the cut at all four majors.

But Sergio brought his game to France. He posted a solid 3-1 record in France and was one of the week’s best players.

The three wins also etched Sergio’s place in Ryder Cup history. He now has 25 career points in the event. No player from either side of the pond has done that. The late, great Seve Ballesteros is one of the men most responsible for making the Ryder Cup the event that it is today. Garcia has definitely honored the legacy of his fellow Spaniard quite well.

Another dreadful Ryder Cup for Tiger

Woods came into Le Golf National in peak form. He’d been playing well since the British Open and won the Tour Championship last week. But that form did not make the trip to France.

Patrick Reed deserves his share of the blame for his pairing with Tiger going 0-2 in fourballs. But Tiger was far from sharp himself. He spent too much time in the rough through the week and didn’t make nearly enough birdies.

For as much as Tiger has done in his career, the great Ryder Cup performance continues to elude him. He now has a 13-20-3 record at the event and American teams are 1-7 with him on the roster.

Francesco Molinari makes history

Molinari teamed with Tommy Fleetwood for a perfect 4-0 mark in the team portion. But while Fleetwood struggled in a singles loss to Tony Finau, Molinari finished off his perfect week with a win over Phil Mickelson.

With the 5-0-0 record, Molinari joins a very exclusive club. Previously that had only been done by Larry Nelson, Gardner Dickinson, and Arnold Palmer.

In addition to being just the fourth person to post a 5-0-0 record in a single Ryder Cup, Molinari is the only European to do so. That’s a fitting cap to what was an extraordinary season.

Jim Furyk does Phil Mickelson no favors

The way that Mickelson was playing coming into France, it seemed like he would be best used in the fourballs format. If he played well, great. If not, at least there’s a partner there who can bail him out. But Mickelson was benched in both fourballs sessions. His only appearance before the Sunday singles came in foursomes (or alternate shot), where there is nowhere to hide.

Mickelson wasn’t exactly on top form coming into the Ryder Cup, which made him something of a controversial captain’s pick. Lefty didn’t play well in France, and Furyk didn’t exactly give him the best chance to succeed.

European depth shows up

In terms of average world ranking, each of these teams fielded their best squads ever this week. But it seemed as though the American side had a depth advantage. It did not work out that way.

Europe got losing records from both Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy. Justin Rose, meanwhile, finished at only 2-2. If we had known that would happen before the week began, it would have been nearly impossible to imagine the Europeans winning — especially so decisively.

But that’s exactly what happened. Even more notable is that so many of Europe’s down-the-roster wins came against the top American players. Of the top-five American qualifiers, only Thomas finished the week with a winning record. That goes a long way toward explaining the end result.

Jordan Spieth finds another strong partnership

The American team didn’t generate many positives at this Ryder Cup. But if there’s one that can be taken, it’s that Spieth proved to be quite compatible with another partner.

Eyebrows were raised when the pairing of Reed and Spieth (who had gone 4-1-2 over the previous two Ryder Cups) was broken up. Reed did look lost, losing all three of his matches in team play. But Spieth and Thomas came to play, going 3-1.

Spieth and Thomas are both going to be a part of Ryder Cup teams for years to come. Seeing these friends play so well together is definitely a positive to take away from an otherwise forgettable week.

Europe has a new star pairing

Fleetwood was a Ryder Cup rookie, while Molinari had struggled in his previous appearances. Thomas Bjørn paired the duo together, and it’s safe to say things worked out well. The two had a nice come-from-behind victory against Reed and Woods on Friday morning, providing Europe’s only point for that session. That was a sign of things to come.

The pair ended up going 4-0. None of their matches even reached the 18th hole. In fact, after Thursday morning’s 3&1 win, none of their matches even got beyond the 15th green.

Future European captains should definitely put Bjørn on their Christmas Card lists. This duo proved to be quite a find.