The Ryder Cup returned to American hands in Muhammad Ali’s hometown of Louisville when Europe captain Nick Faldo’s plan to “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee” went up in smoke.
Faldo was two points down in the final 12 singles at Valhalla, leaving with a sting in his tail and relegating Padraig Harrington to last place despite the risk of the Open and PGA champion’s clash with Chad Campbell becoming irrelevant.
It did, and the end result was an overwhelming 16 1/2-11 1/2 triumph for the United States.
Ending a run of three straight losses, Paul Azinger’s side clinched victory with four games – involving not only Harrington but also star of the week Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell – still catching up are the place.
After taking the wind out of their sails, Poulter managed to pull off four of five wins to become the week’s top scorer and debutant McDowell also won, but Westwood and Harrington lost to finish the event without a win between them them.
For Harrington, a half-dot to his name was the same story as it was at the K Club two years earlier. Of course, his two big wins made it a fantastic 2008, but as far as the Ryder Cup was concerned, it had peaked too soon.
As for Westwood, he ended up attacking the Kentucky crowd.
“Some of the things I was told were shameful,” Westwood said. “I was abused from start to finish and I don’t think that’s golf.”
Faldo said his singles order was a team decision but just six years earlier Curtis Strange had sent Tiger Woods to 12th place at The Belfry and that didn’t matter either.
Azinger said: “We just had a plan and we stuck to it. We created a 13th man with the crowd and they behaved beautifully.
“The guys had a ‘win it all’ attitude and came together as a group. In the end it comes down to putting and heart, and our boys had a lot of heart.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/golf/padraig-harrington-europe-louisville-graeme-mcdowell-american-b2171751.html On this day in 2008: Ryder Cup misery in Louisville for Nick Faldo’s European team