I've seen a lot of dramatic demises and melodramatic meltdowns in sports over the past 30-plus years, but what happened at Medinah on Sunday ranks right up near the top.
The U.S. team had the Ryder Cup all but won, leading Europe 10-6 heading into the final day … and, then, the Americans, one by painful one, punted the thing away. They looked as though they were sputtering down the track in a Model-T, winning just three of 12 singles matches, while the Europeans blew past them in a Porsche. If the Americans had shown up in just a late-model Buick, they would have been OK, but the antiquated Ford didn't get it done. They blasted engine parts and oil skids and red faces all over the 17th and 18th greens.
Of all the matches that went to 17 and 18 there were nine of them the Europeans lost just two. Steve Stricker's defeat to Martin Kaymer at the end rendered the anchor match between Tiger Woods and Francesco Molinari meaningless.
The Americans lost, 14-and-a-half to 13-and-a-half.
The Europeans played some solid golf, especially Ian Poulter, who over the past few days transformed himself into the most unbeatable golfer on the planet. Justin Rose putted like a madman on those final two holes to run past Phil Mickelson, who played well throughout the Ryder Cup but succumbed on Sunday after leading down the stretch. He responded like a gentleman in defeat, and that was gracious of him.
Still, Stricker? Jim Furyk? Brandt Snedeker? Come on, now. Davis Love's captain's picks turned into captain's baggage. Stricker, in particular, was hard to watch. He went 0-for-4 at Medinah. And Furyk absolutely collapsed on Sunday we've seen this before after taking a 1-up edge over Sergio Garcia to 17, from where the 42 year old proceeded to go bogey-bogey to give his point away.
Some of the Europeans including Garcia suggested the late Seve Ballesteros, who played such a huge role in Ryder Cups past, might have had something to do with the strange happenings at Medinah. A slight push of a ball here, a freshening of the wind there. I don't know. The Americans had more to do with the European win than Seve. It flat out couldn't have happened without their comprehensive stumbling and bumbling.
All of it was tough for American sports fans to stomach, as their country's best golfers collectively spiraled into the turf. But, I've got to admit, one of the great things about the Ryder Cup is this: We all get to see how golfers, who ordinarily compete in a kind of pristine bubble, all unto themselves, respond to a raucous team-sport setting, where the crowd sometimes cheers their bad shots and they're playing for more than themselves. They're playing and winning or losing for teammates and country and continent.
And that's real cool as long as their wheels don't spin off en route.
GORDON MONSON hosts "The Big Show" weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 1280 AM and 97.5 FM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.