SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Jim Furyk wanted to make one point abundantly clear on Friday night, after his U.S. team was swept in a session for the first time in 29 years.
“We’ve played for eight points so far out of 28,” he said. “The event is still pretty young.”
But in a match between two of the strongest Ryder Cup teams ever assembled, one lopsided session – even one measly point – has often explained why the Americans are still searching for their first road victory in a quarter-century.
Just look at recent away-game history:
In 2014, the Americans trailed by just a point after three sessions.
In 2010, they lost by one.
In 2006, they were only down, 5-3, heading into Saturday.
And in 2002, they were tied going into Sunday.
Those are slim margins, all of them, which only amplifies a player’s poor performance or a captain’s curious decision.
Furyk had one of those decisions Friday at Le Golf National.
Wanting to get everyone on the course on the first day of matches, Furyk paired Phil Mickelson with rookie Bryson DeChambeau for the afternoon foursomes.
With 21 career losses, Mickelson is the losingest U.S. Ryder Cupper in history, but he’s been particularly poor in alternate shot (now 5-8-4). His current form has been suspect – he finished dead last a week ago at the Tour Championship – and his season-long statistics offered little reason to think he’d be a good fit for the format.
He ranked 192nd on the PGA Tour in driving accuracy – out of 193 players.
And he was 136th in greens in regulation.
Le Golf National just so happens to be one of the tightest driving courses that players have faced all year, with lush rough and hazards galore, and on Friday afternoon 20-mph gusts made hitting greens even more difficult.