Team (ugly) America was a disgrace

Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele, 2023 Ryder Cup, Rome,(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele, 2023 Ryder Cup, Rome,(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

The Ryder Cup in Rome showed Team USA to be poorly managed, unprepared, dysfunctional, and a bit disgraceful.

In no particular order, here are some popular and not-so-popular takes on the Ryder Cup loss.

Zach Johnson was overmatched at the Ryder Cup.

I like Zach Johnson a lot. I think he was a great player, represents the game in the right way, loves his country, and desperately wanted to win.

I also think Ryder Cup Captain was given to him as an honorarium more than identifying him as the best leader.

This is typical of most Captains. I don’t disagree with the process entirely but this one came back to bite Team USA in the backside.

Johnson looked overwhelmed in the moment; passive and chained to logic.

It started with his “safe” picks for the team, ignoring hot players. It finished with his tepid response to the Joe Lacava fiasco. In between he told Spieth to hit a 3-wood layup on a short par-4 even after his partner was safely on the green.

Spieth proceeded to dump it in the pond.

That encapsulated Zach Johnson’s week. He never got a feel, inserted himself unnecessarily, and passively disappeared when a strong Captain’s presence was required.

Joe LaCava was 100% wrong.

I could go on all day about this. Just watch the video. LaCava lingered, then inserted himself into the match at its most critical moment. If a player had done it, it would have been one of the most unsportsmanlike moments in Ryder Cup history.

But a caddy did it. A frickin’ caddy. Disgraceful.

Cantlay later said he didn’t see it and basically washed his hands of the incident. Watch the video again. Cantlay is the closest person to the entire thing and is watching it play out. Again, disgraceful. Lacava is his employee.

Zach Johnson should have immediately condemned and apologized for the behavior. Instead, he was missing in action, likely thinking about what spikes the American team should wear the following day. Once again, disgraceful.

I knew there has always been a grain of truth to the “Ugly American” stereotype. Now there is videotape.

If my reaction seems over-the-top, imagine a European caddy doing this to Justin Thomas as he lines up a match-tying putt. You would be rightly incensed.

Golf is a game where the rules, traditions, and respect apply to everyone equally. Joe LaCava crossed the line and then some.

Xander and Patrick don’t get it.

Rumors spread all week about a rift in the Team USA locker room. Patrick wanted money, Xander wanted money, the team was split, etc.

The truth will never be entirely known, but it seems clear that Schauffele and Cantlay want compensation for playing in the Ryder Cup. They took the opportunity (THE WEEK OF THE RYDER CUP!) to express this opinion.

There are many ways that players are compensated for their Ryder Cup week – beyond, the flights, hotels, parties, adoration, international exposure, charity donations to their favorite non-profit organizations, and funding for the PGA Tour pension, I suspect they earn dollars from sponsors for making the team, as well.

That aside, the real compensation is getting your name etched in golf history upon the Ryder Cup. Not all compensation is monetary. Some members of Team USA seem to think the number in their bank account is a measure of their character. I would have thought Phil Mickelson disabused everyone of that notion.

Do you think the European players were whining about getting paid? Yeah, me neither.

It all leaves a sickly taste in the mouth of the fans who spend the money to make Xander and Patrick multi-millionaires. LIV golf beckons to both. I won’t be surprised if that happens.

For those that want to rant about, “They shouldn’t play for free! They deserve some compensation! They aren’t golfing slaves!” I have a simple solution.

Don’t play.

Give the opportunity to Keegan Bradley or Lucas Glover; two guys who would’ve given their left legs to be on the team.

Money is thought to be the solution to every problem. Team USA showed that it’s often the cause of every problem, too. Once again, disgraceful.

Team USA needs a long look in the mirror. It needs to clean house. The Vice Captains are starting to feel like Congressmen and Senators who linger in office well past their prime.

Next. What went wrong for the USA?. dark

It’s time for new blood, new energy, new focus, and a heaping side of desire. At this point, I want players who care more than I want the best players. I want guys who know it’s about something more than money.

Sadly, I think I’m in the minority. Sports is business. Business is money. Money is greed. And greed, eventually, ruins everything.