2018 Ryder Cup: Americans fizzle at Open as Europeans build momentum

CARNOUSTIE, SCOTLAND - JULY 22: Jordan Spieth of the United States reacts after his third shot on the 6th hole during the final round of the Open Championship at Carnoustie Golf Club on July 22, 2018 in Carnoustie, Scotland. (Photo by Warren Little/R&A/R&A via Getty Images) Warren Little/Getty Images

2018 Ryder Cup: Americans fizzle at Open as Europeans build momentum

2018 British Open

2018 Ryder Cup: Americans fizzle at Open as Europeans build momentum

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The streak is over.

The Americans finally relinquished their stranglehold on golf’s major championships at Carnoustie, where Italian Francesco Molinari became the first non-U.S. player to win a major since Sergio Garcia at the 2017 Masters.

Kevin Kisner, Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele shared the 54-hole lead, Tiger Woods led outright on the back nine and Tony Finau, Matt Kuchar and Kevin Chappell had chances to make a run.

Perhaps most surprising was Spieth’s disappearance from contention after a bogey at five and a double at the par-5 sixth hole, ending his chances at back-to-back Claret Jugs.

“I knew coming in that it’s probably the worst (course) for me in the rotation, just given where the misses are,” Spieth said. “So I’m not making any excuses for myself by any means because all I had to do is shoot even par (in the final round) and I could certainly do that out here.”

Europe claimed three of the top five spots, with Englishman Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy T-2 at 4 under.

That gives them something to hang their hats on with the U.S. having been on a roll entering the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in Paris two short months from now.

“They’ve got something going,” said Paul Casey, who finished T-51 at 4 over. “They’ve got momentum on their side. They have the Presidents Cup. They have the Ryder Cup, World No. 1 (Dustin Johnson) … and then you throw that into the mix, the fact that they all get along, it means they’re going to be a very good team.”

The tight-knit group including Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas is certainly good for chemistry and the three shared a house at Carnoustie with Jason Dufner, Jimmy Walker, Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner to further strengthen the bond. Not one of those roommates left Scotland in a good mood, though.

Fowler faltered yet again Sunday at a major, 54-hole leaders Johnson and Kisner fell off pace and Dustin Johnson finished bogey, double bogey in Round 2 to miss the cut.

It was a rare nationwide letdown on a national stage – the Americans entered the 14th British Open owning 12 of the last 15 major titles.

The European team is beginning to look much stronger than it did just a few months ago with Molinari’s surge, strong showings from Tommy Fleetwood in each of the first three majors this year and McIlroy making serious noise in the final round at Carnoustie.

“I hung in there,” said McIlroy, who closed in 1-under 70. “I did what I needed to do. I had some clutch putts coming down the stretch. So I’ll look back at this week and be very encouraged about what I’ve done, and the golf that I played, and I feel like that will stand me in good stead for what’s coming up.”

The American team is still the favorite to retain the Cup in Paris, but the Europeans have recently proved they’ll be an extremely tough out on their home turf. Gwk

(Note: This story appears in the August 2018 issue of Golfweek.)

Latest

More Golfweek
Home