For the record, this iteration of the famous trophy, hosted by Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky on 19-21 September 2008, was won 16½ – 11½ by the USA. A home win that was neither unexpected nor especially noteworthy.
However, my take on the event is a little different in that I’m intrigued by the subsequent substandard performances, and just plain bad luck, of a high percentage of the participants. Remember, these were the best 12 players from their respective continents in 2008, so they were close to being the two dozen best players in the world at that time.
Fast forward four and a bit years and let’s take a retrospective look at how half of those 24 heroes have performed since enjoying that time in the global golfing spotlight:
Chad Campbell has had plenty of placings since the 2008 Ryder Cup, yet has not won a tournament since that time.
Boo Weekley was going along nicely in 2008, having won the Verizon Heritage earlier that year. However, he has not won a tournament since that Ryder Cup. Boo lost his PGA Tour card in 2012.
Justin Leonard was in a typically good vein of form in 2008, having long been one of the best putters, and most consistent players, on the PGA Tour. He’d won the St Jude three months prior to the Ryder Cup. However, he has not won a tournament since that Ryder Cup.
Ben Curtis has actually managed a win since that Ryder Cup, albeit in a weak Valero Texas Open field in 2012. His 2008 promise as an up-and-coming 30-y-o is yet to be fulfilled.
Anthony Kim was developing, in 2008, into a superstar of the future. He’d won spectacularly at Quail Hollow in ‘08 and he added a memorable string of five consecutive Top3 placings late in the year. However, he has had just one win during the four years since, the 2010 Shell Houston Open.
J.B Holmes was a very promising 25-y-o when he enjoyed his second win, at the FBR at TPC Scottsdale in February 2008. In September, he was unbeaten as a Ryder Cup rookie with 2 wins and a half. However, he has not won a tournament since that Ryder Cup!
I could even consider listing Stewart Cink in the context of being a virtual failure since the 2008 Ryder Cup. He was one of the best and most consistent players for many years up to that time and won the 2009 Open Championship after a tragic Tom Watson error let him into a playoff. However, Cink also has otherwise not won another tournament since that Ryder Cup!
Padraig Harrington won 2 Majors in the months prior to the 2008 Ryder Cup. However, he has, staggeringly, not won a European nor PGA tournament since! In fact, his only tournament victory since 2008 was in the lowly 2010 Iskandar Johor Open!
Tall Swede, Robert Karlsson, has been a prolific performer on both the PGA & European Tours – with 11 wins to date on the latter. However, despite winning the Dunhill Links two weeks later, he is otherwise winless in continental Europe and the USA since.
Henrik Stenson has been one of the best players in the world for a decade. However, since that 2008 Ryder Cup he has only recorded a single win on either the PGA or European Tour (2010 Players).
Soren Hansen has been a European Tour player of consistently high quality since the late 1990’s. However, he has not won a tournament, anywhere in the world, since that 2008 Ryder Cup!
Englishman, Oliver Wilson, coming into that Ryder Cup as a hugely promising 28-y-o with two recent 2nd’s on the European Tour, had a good win and a loss in that Ryder Cup but also has not won a tournament, anywhere in the world, since that time.
Ian Poulter despite his wonderful matchplay record and his Asian successes, has not won a strokeplay tournament in continental Europe or the USA since that Ryder Cup!
So what have we discovered?
Unlike other Ryder Cups, this one seems to have bestowed the black hand of fate, represented by subsequent ill fortune or poor form or both, on more than half of the participants! All they have to show between them, post that Ryder Cup, is a handful of largely mediocre victories; this from a group of genuine stars each of whom was expected to go on and register 10 or 20 wins during the coming years.
Actually, there’s even more misfortune associated with this Ryder Cup:
JB Holmes’ subsequently required brain surgery.
Anthony Kim is currently out of the game following Achilles tendon surgery.
Paul Casey lost months of play, and all form, for most of 2012 following a shoulder injury while snowboarding.
Robert Karlsson went through a horrendous stretch of the yips.
Phil Mickelson’s wife, Amy, developed breast cancer shortly after that 2008 Ryder Cup. Am I drawing too long a bow with this one? Or with the fact that Tiger could not compete owing to injury?
I could even talk about Lee Westwood, one of the very best players in the world for many years and currently world ranked #7. Even he, despite a bit of African & Asian success, has had just the one continental European (’09 Portugal Masters) win and one PGA Tour win (’10 St Jude) since that fateful Ryder Cup!
Now, you might say it’s truly difficult to win tournaments these days; the competition is so tough. And that’s correct, but consider the following:
In evaluating the fortunes of the Europeans mentioned above, do so in the context of their mainland European victories – a maximum of one each! In other words, since 2008, less victories in Europe for any of them than: Michael Hoey or Pablo Larrazabal! Or at best, level on Euro wins since 2008 with: James Morrison, Ross McGowan & Oliver Fisher!
In evaluating the fortunes of the Americans mentioned above, do so in the context of their PGA Tour victories – a maximum of one each! In other words, since 2008, less victories in the USA for any of them than: Michael Bradley, Scott Stallings or Mark Wilson! Or at best, level on US wins since 2008 with: Arjun Atwal, Bill Lunde & Charlie Beljan!
There must have been something in the air or the water at that Ryder Cup. I haven’t researched it but I can’t believe there’s a group of modern era Ryder Cup players, representing more than half of the competitors, that have performed as poorly, or suffered as much misfortune, in the years following a RC appearance!
Here’s hoping the wheel of fortune turns full circle for these players and at least some of them soon return to winning ways!