PARIS (Reuters) - United States captain Jim Furyk proverbially fell on his own sword on Sunday, accepting blame for his team’s heavy loss to Europe at the Ryder Cup.
U.S. hopes were high after their victory on home soil two years ago, but it turned into the same old story for the visitors as they succumbed amid a series of errant drives and missed putts.
In the process, Furyk became the sixth consecutive American leader to preside over a losing team in Europe.
“Thomas (Bjorn) was a better captain, and their team out-played us,” Furyk said, surrounded by the 12 players on his team at a glum news conference.
“He did a good job. When a team is successful, as they were and as well as they played, that shows to me they had great leadership.
“I know everyone on this table wishes they had played better, and I wish I probably would have done some things differently, as well, but at the end of the day we did the best we could and we all worked hard.”
Tough questions about what Furyk, and his players, could have done differently will be asked, including whether it was negligent that half his team arrived at quirky Le Golf National without having stepped foot on the course.
Furyk cited logistics as a reason, though it is worth noting that Justin Thomas, the only American team member who played the French Open on the course this year, was the star of the losing team, winning four of his five matches.
Furyk will also be second-guessed for playing the notoriously inaccurate Phil Mickelson in the unforgiving alternate-shot foursomes, rather than fourball (best ball).
The latter format, in which both players hit their own ball and take the best score on each hole, generally rewards attacking golf and birdies, which is more Mickelson’s style of play.
Mickelson lost his Friday foursomes and was benched until the singles.
“You know we’re going to get second-guessed and we’re going to get questioned,” Furyk said.
“I realise as a leader of this team and as a captain, the brunt of it is going to be on my plate and I accepted that when I took this role.
“I’ll work with the PGA of America and I’ll work with our Ryder Cup committee and I think we’ll keep improving.”
Furyk was also asked whether losing was traumatic.
“It’s just golf. Golf isn’t traumatic,” he said.
“Obviously, there’s a sour taste in our mouth to come over here now for 27 years and not be able to win on foreign soil.
“We want to grow and we want to get better, but we want to do it here in Europe. That will be the goal four years from now.”
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Ed Osmond