Phil Mickelson, the record holder for most Ryder Cup appearances by an American, may have turned on Tom Watson after the 2014 loss at Gleneagles but Jim Furyk was spared the same treatment despite the visitors suffering another dose of defeat on foreign soil.
The 17½-10½ loss, in fact, was a bigger margin than the visitors went down in Perthshire – it ended 16½-11½ on that occasion – but, instead of throwing his captain under the bus on this occasion, he dished out praise to Furyk.
“This is an awesome team and we had phenomenal leadership,” said the 48-year-old, who was making his 13th successive appearance in the transatlantic tussle. “We had great vice-captains. And we were put as players in a position to succeed.
“These guys up here [he was speaking alongside Furyk and his other 11 team-mates at a post-event press conference] are such great players that if you put these players in a position to succeed, they most often will.
“Unfortunately it didn’t happen this week. But we had a very special week here. We’ll continue to build on it and improve in a couple of years.”
On the back of Mickelson’s public outburst at Gleneagles, the PGA of America set up a task force that the five-time major winner became part of along with the likes of Tiger Woods.
That helped the Americans secure a first success in the event since 2008 at Hazeltine two years ago and, although this was definitely a setback, Mickelson is hoping that most of the players involved in France can be part of winning US teams in the future.
“This is a very meaningful, special team for me,” he added. “Personally, too, because our captain is one of, I think, the best people in golf, and somebody that I’ve always looked up to and cherished our friendship.
“He brought everybody in together on decisions. Some of you might question some of the decisions, but everything was done with reason, input, thought through, and then it’s up to us to execute, and we just didn’t quite execute.
“And let’s be honest. The European side played some exquisite golf. I mean, it was some phenomenal golf and they flat-out beat us. But they beat us on the course.
“I thought that this was really a special week for all of us. There have been two years, this year and 2006 [when the US suffered a record 18½-9½ defeat] with Tom Lehman, where it breaks my heart a little bit more than others because those two we didn’t execute while we were given every opportunity to succeed.”
Mickelson lost both his matches while Woods tasted defeat in all four outings. They have now been beaten in 22 and 21 games in this event over the years. A week after getting back to winning ways on the individual front in the Tour Championship in Atlanta, Woods admitted it had not been the return to Ryder Cup action he’d been hoping for after a six-year absence.
“We didn’t execute like we had planned and wanted to,” he said. “For me personally, I went 0-4. Obviously very disappointing. Those are four points that aren’t going towards our side. It’s going towards their side. To have a Ryder Cup end that way, for me personally, it doesn’t feel very good because I didn’t help my team-mates earn any points. At the end of the day, we came here as a team and we win or lose, and unfortunately we lost this one.”
Appearing so tired that he could barely speak, the 14-time major winner admitted: “I played seven out of nine weeks. For me, it’s been a lot of golf for a short period of time, a lot of big events, and a lot of focus, a lot of energy goes into it.”