It was a pretty special week for the Americans and just because it is a team event doesn't mean we can't do a Winners and Losers about the Ryder Cup. Lets dive in and check who did some good and who did some bad.
The Americans -- From the first guy to the last, from Steve Stricker to Jim Furyk, this was a complete team effort and they made sure to do it with some laughs and high fives. Rejuvenated and with a swagger that's been missing the last three matches, the American team made the putts when they needed to, had a good break here or there and even when they slipped up, bounced back on the next hole.
The Six Rookies -- When you have half your team playing in their first ever Ryder Cup, you hold your breath. When they go 9-4-8, you can exhale with a grin. Hunter Mahan gained the most points for Team USA, Anthony Kim pounded Sergio Garcia in singles and Boo Weekley and J.B. Holmes turned out to be an amazing duo. I bet there weren't a lot of people around this world yesterday that had as much fun as those four. Also, Ben Curtis and Stricker weren't all bad, combining for two points over the week.
Ian Poulter -- What more can you say about the captain's pick other than the fact that he won four points, the most of anyone at these matches. He was absolutely unstoppable after his morning loss on Friday, cashing birdies when nobody else on the team seemed to be able to. Also, he looks like a spitting image of the spoiled prince on "Shrek," which has to be good for something.
Paul Azinger -- Slow golf clap for Azinger. Everything he did the past two years seemed to work perfect and all his plans were executed brilliantly. Lee Westwood said, "We hold the clubs and we hit the shots, not the captain," but it sure doesn't hurt when your captain totally nails it.
Golf -- Not in the last 10 years has golf needed a steroid shot more than these injured Tiger Woods days. People have lost interest in the game and have other things to pay attention to besides, yawn, the battle for the FedEx Cup. Having players like Phil Mickelson enjoying themselves in an event he has never enjoyed himself in was a nice change, and plus we got a few new guys out there that aren't necessarily household names. I will say this, when my sister is texting me, "Hunter Mahan is D precious," you know golf hit its way out of this current slump.
Valhalla's 18th -- I knew it was a fun hole, but I never knew it would swing matches that much. We saw people in the water, in the bunker, in the fairway and in the left rough. We had team birdies, team bogeys and whole teams in the drink off the tee. It might be a bit goofy for some, but it sure seemed to be the perfect finishing hole for match play.
The Big Three -- Padraig Harrington, Garcia, and Westwood were the guys to beat heading to Valhalla, but get beat they did. The three combined for a total of 2.5 points all week, showing that even these guys can miss a putt in the Ryder Cup. If you're going to place blame on a group of individuals, these are probably the ones to do it. For the first time in his life, Garcia was made to look like the old man, surrendering that youthful exuberance during the singles match when Kim raked the bunker with him.
Nick Faldo -- One of his captain's pick, Poulter, showed up in a big way, but Paul Casey was pretty mediocre and did nothing for the team that Colin Montgomerie or Darren Clarke would have if they were the chosen ones. Also, he might have wiggled himself off this list if he hadn't sat Westwood and Garcia on Saturday morning, a team that had a 4-1-1 record before this week. Faldo's attitude before and during the week reminded most why he was never a fan favorite in the States (or in the UK for that matter).
Poulter -- He was great, but the celebration after the 18-inch putt he made for birdie on Saturday was everything the Americans normally get called out for. Fist outstretched, arms tucked, yelling in the direction of his teammates, Poulter looked like he was trying a touch too hard. I've said it before and I'll say it again, you can't look intimidating with frosted tips.
Woods -- I've already read a column in the USA Today that started out, "Who needs Tiger Woods when you have Boo Weekley?" Sigh. Tiger will somehow get bad press about this because he wasn't in attendance for the Americans first victory in the Ryder Cup since 1999, and it will all be without merit. No way this team was better off without Woods, and by saying that you're this guy. The team played great, they won as a group and they probably celebrated late into last night while Woods was on the couch, but no group of golfers is in a better position without the world number one.
Johnny Miller -- First he criticized the captain's picks of Azinger. Then we had to listen to him broadcast the tournament all week. While Miller is normally a change to the always bland golf coverage, match play doesn't seem to be his forte and it was eye-rolling by Sunday. His call on an eight-footer for birdie, "Well, he's either going to make this or get it close," is all you need to know about his performance.
Valhalla's 1st Hole -- Yawn, when are they playing the second hole? Everyone boomed it over the same tree, leaving 70-100 yards in to fairly simple pin positions. Also, if you were above the hole it didn't seem that anyone had a chance of making the putt. The Americans struggled with the hole Friday morning, but after that seemed to get in a groove and play it like the Europeans.
Well, that sure was fun. I've received text messages from people I didn't even know liked golf, including an ex-girlfriend and a buddy asking for a companion for the 2010 Ryder Cup. I think it's fair to say that on this side of the pond, Ryder Cup Fever has officially caught on.