Ryder Cup heroes and villains, as Mickelson starts US civil war
Europe secure another win at Gleneagles as the US team turn on each other in press conference
Europe's golfers easily secured the Ryder Cup on Sunday as they romped to a 161Ž2-111Ž2 win over the USA at Gleneagles.
It was Europe's eighth win in the last ten tournaments and victory, which had looked inevitable since Saturday evening's foursomes, was confirmed when Jamie Donaldson won the 15th hole against Keegan Bradley to go four up with three holes remaining and take Europe past the all-important 14-point mark.
His victory with three holes to spare took the limelight away from Sergio Garcia, who was ahead of the Welshman on the course, but had to wait until the 18th hole to earn victory over Jim Furyk.
It did not take long for the recriminations to begin, with US veteran Phil Mickelson taking aim at his captain, Tom Watson, in the post-match press conference.
Mickelson appeared to blame Watson's leadership for the US defeat but his outburst – "surely the most public denunciation of a captain by a player in Ryder Cup history", according to Paul Hayward in the Daily Telegraph – neatly illustrated why the US had lost. It exposed the USA team as "fragile, ambivalent, unstructured and willing to knife the captain in front of a bank of cameras".
Europe on the other hand were united and committed to the cause.
So who were the heroes and villains of the weekend?
The outstanding player of the weekend, Rose played all five rounds and ended up unbeaten with three wins and two halves. His comeback on Sunday was stirring and the way he began the tournament on Friday set a benchmark. "Some of Rose's golf was simply sublime and he proved to be this year's talisman for the home side," says The Guardian.
Unlike compatriot Rory McIlroy who played all five rounds, McDowell only played three, but he won them all. The decision to put him top of the order in the singles showed that he, even more than McIlroy, is Europe's enforcer. He also mentored rookie Victor Dubuisson in the pairs and proved that he is the ultimate team man. He "gets" the Ryder Cup and it shows.
Stephen Gallacher's travails proved how tough the Ryder Cup can be for a rookie, and it adds perspective to Dubuisson and Donaldson's excellent performances. Donaldson it was who secured the vital winning point and he "is going to have to get used to a whole new level of acclaim following his stunning performance at Gleneagles", says the Daily Mail.
The European captain was showered not just with champagne but also praise after the tournament. "He has just been the most wonderful captain," McIlroy said. "The speeches he gave, the videos he showed us, the people who came in to talk to us, the imagery in the team room. It all tied together and he was meticulous in his planning. He left no stone unturned."
The only US player to finish the tournament unbeaten, he won three and halved one of his four matches. He also looked well up for the challenge, and could not resist reacting to the crowd. The Ryder Cup has "unearthed a new panto villain", says The Times.
The American's attack on team captain Tom Watson dominated the aftermath of the contest. Even the controversial Nick Faldo thought Mickelson should have kept his counsel and accused him of throwing Watson "under the bus". Perhaps he was annoyed about sitting out Saturday, but his outburst was condemned in all quarters. He played OK on the fairways, but had a shocker in the clubhouse.
Describing him as a villain might be a bit much, but 'the postman', as he likes to bill himself in Ryder Cups, failed to deliver this time out. He failed to inspire rookie Gallacher when paired with him on Friday and failed to win any of his three matches. "Curiously peripheral," says the Mail.
After being beaten in three of his four outings the veteran, who has appeared in nine Ryder Cups, now holds the record for the most number of defeats for an American. "He’s just not up to it," sniffs the Mail.
The avuncular 65-year-old somehow failed to get his USA team firing, and was then stabbed in the back by his senior player, Mickelson. "He is a legend, adored far and wide. He loves Scotland, his second home. And he truly cocked it up for his real home, the United States," says The Guardian.