Still, the week that was at Hazeltine — culminating in a 17-11 United States victory over Europe, the first for the Americans since 2008 — was filled with plenty of moments and memories on both sides of the equation. Here is some of what transpired:
BEST MOMENT: When the U.S. wins the Ryder Cup in the place you live, there are plenty of moments to choose from. But honestly, if you’re looking for the one thing people couldn’t stop talking about and that people might just remember the most from this tournament, it might have come Thursday — a day before the tournament even started — when 30-year-old David Johnson from North Dakota sank a putt after heckling the European team on the eighth green during practice.
WORST MOMENT: Ah, but not all heckling had a happy ending. On Saturday, one unfortunate fool shouted something so vulgar at Rory McIlroy that he was removed from the grounds. Others, too, crossed the line from playing clever mind games to showing off their ugly American tendencies. Sure, Peter Willett’s brother stoked the fire with his ridiculous column bashing American fans before the Cup even started, but “he started it” stopped being a viable defense when we were about 8.
WORST CROWD: Saturday’s crowd definitely gets this one. The aforementioned moments were enough to force the PGA of America to put out a statement Sunday that read in part, “Our security staff will continue to enforce a zero tolerance policy, removing from the course any fans who are disruptive in any way, including the use of vulgar or profane language directed at the players. We look forward to a strong finish today that reflects the spirit of the Ryder Cup and provides a positive experience for all.”
BEST CROWD: Ah, the PGA knows what it is doing — and maybe knows Minnesotans all too well. We want everyone to like us, and the plea for better behavior Sunday was largely met. I walked the galleries for four hours and heard nothing of the sort of stuff that was going on Saturday. Even on 16, when a fan made a loud noise as Rory McIlroy prepared to hit, he was roundly booed by others around him.
BEST MATCH: It had to be Sergio Garcia vs. Phil Mickelson on Sunday. Mickelson made 10 birdies (and a bogey), while Garcia made nine birdies (and the rest pars). Both would have shot 63 in a regular scoring match. Instead, they ended up halving their match — giving the U.S. what was a critical half-point at the time. Patrick Reed’s 1-up win over Rory McIlroy is a close second.
WORST PART ABOUT SUNDAY: Like many others who were busy watching the scoreboards while also tracking other matches on video boards and radios, I settled in at hole 16 late in the day, thinking that might be the place the U.S. clinched. It looked like we would all be rewarded, but Dustin Johnson missed a short putt that would have put the Americans over the top. Instead, the clincher came on 18 a few minutes later and we all strained to watch on a distant video board.
BEST PART ABOUT THE WEEKEND: Aside from the killer calf workout from getting on my tiptoes to see shots, it had to have been the weather. Organizers have had 14 years to worry about what this weekend would be like. I’m not sure it could have been any better.