5 Big Name Golfers with Surprisingly Bad Ryder Cup Records
In case you spent the couple weeks in some variety of unconsciousness and were unaware, the U.S didn’t win the Ryder Cup at Medinah after entering Sunday’s singles play with a four-point lead.
The U.S. stable was full of goats at Medinah Sunday: Furyk, Sticker and Tiger (certainly not to be confused with G.O.A.T).
Several members of the team have the dubious distinction of finding themselves on the shortlist of very good American golfers with very bad Ryder Cup records. However, none of them performed as poorly as…
Fuzzy Zoeller: 1-8-1
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Fuzzy Zoeller, undisputed lord of the glasses strap and recent vodka dilettante, won his first Ryder Cup match…and never won another.
"The Fuzz" has fond memories of battling Seve Ballesteros in 1983 while suffering from back problems. Unfortunately, the half point he mustered against the legendary Spaniard is the extent of the good memories for Zoeller. If his .150 winning percentage were a batting average, he’d be riding the pine for a AA Team, or singing Glory Days as a high school ball coach.
Perhaps it was the rigor of the Ryder Cup competition that was his ultimate undoing. As the Fuzz states, “Having the opportunity to play for your country. That's where all the pressure is at.”
Whatever the cause, Fuzzy has the unwelcome distinction of “Worst Ryder Cup Record” for golfers having played a minimum of five matches.
Ben Crenshaw: 3-8-1
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Crenshaw’s Ryder Cup record is a bit of a surprise, especially given his success as captain of the 1999 team. For a man who has a reputation as a grinder and a Texas hard case, the fact that he was only able to manage three victories in the Ryder Cup format speaks to a strange inability to reap the benefits of that mentality, or the vagaries of match play.
Famously a “big believer in fate,” it appears that Crenshaw wasn’t fated to be much of a Ryder Cup player for the American side. Ultimately, Crenshaw’s Ryder Cup related legacy, obviously, will be the ’99 Ryder Cup at the Country Club and his individual play in previous competitions will be a footnote.
Well enough, but disappointing still.
Phil Mickelson: 14-18-6
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Despite his the crowd-pleasing success of his pairing with fidgety Keegan Bradley and a 3-1-0 record in this year’s Ryder Cup at Medinah, Phil Mickelson’s record over the nine Cups he has competed in is still sub-.500.
Mickelson’s oil and water mixture with Tiger Woods, typified by the pair getting handled twice in 2004 at Oakland Hills, hasn’t helped his record any. Additionally, his defection from the "SS Titleist" to Callaway’s schooner just before the competition was an obvious blunder and lack of judgment—two themes which have been recurrent throughout the golfer’s career.
Never quite the rival to Woods through the early 2000s that we’d hoped him to be, Mickelson has proven to be a largely mediocre Ryder Cupper across nearly 20 years in the competition, during the vast majority of which he was ranked in the Top 10 of the Official World Golf Rankings.
Jim Furyk: 9-17-4
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Jim Furyk’s 2012 season was, as my colleague Robert Hartman points out, “a series of close calls.”
Furyk was unable to convert his putt for a half point against Sergio Garcia on Sunday. In team play he split a pair of matches against Rory McIlroy and Graham McDowell, which has to be considered a victory.
The victory, however, was only Furyk’s ninth in the Ryder Cup against nearly twice as many losses; not exactly compelling stuff from a captain’s pick.
The enduring image of Furyk’s 2012 Ryder Cup will surely be the photo in this slide.
Tiger Woods: 13-17-3
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Tiger Woods was winless at Medinah, only managing to put a half point on the board for Team USA, but at least he got to play a few rounds at a pretty decent track with his buddy Steve Stricker.
True, partnered with Stricker against Garcia and Donald on Saturday afternoon the two staged a furious back nine rally that came up just short. Additionally, it was only thanks to eight birdies and an eagle by Nicolas Colsaerts that the team of Colsaerts and Lee Westwood triumphed over the Americans (and Tiger’s seven birdies).
One thinks that Tiger ought to have went with what’s in his pants , ala Colsaerts, but that approach hasn’t worked out so well for El Tigre in the past.
Even though his Sunday Singles match against Francesco Molinari was entirely meaningless with Europe having already retained the cup by the time Woods stood on the 18th tee with a 1-up lead, it was still immensely disappointing that the greatest closer in the history of golf couldn’t close out the diminutive man from Turin.
In an unwarranted oversimplification of the situation, the “Old Tiger’s” third shot on 18 would have lipped in, rather than out, but that’s rather the point. Old Tiger or New Tiger, Woods hasn’t had any luck in the Ryder Cup across 15 years and seven appearances in the competition, and the only time the U.S. has won the Cup since Tiger started playing in it was the year he didn’t—2008 at Valhalla. Correlation doesn’t imply causality, but still…