The eighth hole Sunday. That’s all you have to say to those who watched the Ryder Cup intensely. Rory McIlroy drops a crazy-long birdie putt and roars at the crowd in “I can’t hear you!” fashion. Then silence as Patrick Reed stands over his birdie attempt. Then: Mayhem. Ball drops. Reed wags his finger at McIlroy. Arms waving. Place going crazy. Was golf about to get nasty? A second later, Reed and McIlroy left the green, came together, laughed and quickly put their arms around each other. The lightest moment of the weekend, right after the most intense. That was perhaps the most memorable moment among the 101 memorable moments of thrilling golf at Hazeltine National.
What could have been a duck-hook into the trees turned out to be a striped drive when the sun and warm October air hung around Chaska all weekend. “Best weather ever” was repeated more often than “U-S-A!” The crowds were massive and (mostly) spectacular. The roars rolled over the gorgeous course every few minutes, it seemed. Bill Murray was everyone’s BFF. The beer was cold (see parenthetical reference above to “spectacular” crowds and “mostly” ). Everything went Minnesota’s way during the week of the Ryder Cup, even if it was a North Dakota resident who was plucked from the crowd to sink a 12-footer and win $100 from Rory McIlroy during a practice round.
Beaten by the European team in six of the past seven Ryder Cups, the Americans finally held it together on a Sunday and sprayed the champagne all over Hazeltine’s grounds. Patrick Reed made himself an American hero. Phil Mickelson, Brandt Snedeker and five other red-white-and-blue’rs won singles in mostly thrilling fashion, giving credence to captain Davis Love III’s pretournament proclamation that the United States was “the best golf team, maybe, ever assembled.”