Ronán Daly reviews the Solheim and Ryder Cup, where Leona Maguire was the star for Europe as the well represented Irish in the Ryder Cup team suffered an historic defeat
2021 was a unique year for golf as the Solheim Cup and the Ryder Cup both took place in the same year for just the second time, the last coming in 2002 when 9/11 delayed the 2001 Ryder Cup. As a result of the pandemic delaying the 2020 Ryder Cup, golf fans were treated to both tournaments within the space of three weeks as Europe took home the Solheim Cup on American soil for the just the second time, the first away win coming in 2013, while the youngest USA Ryder cup team in history hammered a European team captained by Padraig Harrington 19-9, their second consecutive win on home turf.
Europe’s 15-13 win at the Inverness Club in Ohio was a historic one. Team captain, Catriona Mathew became the third woman to captain her team to Solheim cup victory on more than one occasion and the first to do so with team Europe. Mathew’s second successive victory as captain after Europe’s win in 2019 in Gleneagles was largely based on the performances of two rookies.
Finland’s Matilda Castren was the star of the show on the final day as her 1 up victory secured the 14th point for Europe, which was enough to retain the trophy
Finland’s Matilda Castren was the star of the show on the final day as her 1 up victory secured the 14th point for Europe, which was enough to retain the trophy. Castren picked up 3 points over the weekend, a tally only bettered by Ireland and Cavan’s Leona Maguire. Maguire picked up 4.5 out of a possible 5 points as she played an integral role in Europe’s success. While Castren may have stolen some of the headlines for her winning putt, Maguire still received the recognition she deserved.
As Maguire lifted the Solheim cup chants of “MVP” rang out among the members of team Europe. The feeling was mutual on the American side as the presenters on the golf channel said she was the MVP of both sides. Maguire is the first Irish woman to take part in the Solheim cup and her starring role in Europe’s victory only enhances what has been a breakthrough season for her as she took her highest finish to date on the LPGA tour with a 3rd place finish in the LPGA classic and finished in the top 15 at 3 of the 5 majors in 2021.
As Maguire lifted the Solheim cup chants of “MVP” rang out among the members of team Europe
The Solheim cup may have been a success for Europe and Ireland, however the men’s competition was quite the opposite. Pádraig Harrington captained a European side that included Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy. Ireland may have been well represented in the Ryder Cup, but it will be a tournament most members of team Europe will want to forget as the USA won 19-9, the largest winning margin in the competition since 1975 and the first time a team has won by 10 points since GB and Ireland became Europe in 1979.
The youngest USA Ryder Cup team in history dominated from start to finish at Whistling straits, winning all but one session, drawing the day 2 fourballs 2-2. World number 2 Dustin Johnson was the star of the show picking up 5 points from 5, the first American to achieve the feat since Larry Nelson in Europe’s inaugural Ryder cup in 1979. World number three and reigning Open champion Colin Morikawa also starred for the USA, picking 3.5 out of possible 4 points.
Ireland may have been well represented in the Ryder Cup, but it will be a tournament most members of team Europe will want to forget as the USA won 19-9
There was very little to be positive about in the European camp throughout the weekend with one of the few silver linings being the Spanish duo of John Rahm and Sergio Garcia who won 3 out of 3 matches when paired together over the first 2 days. World number 1 Rahm was Europe’s top points scorer with 3.5 as both Spaniards lost in the final day singles that saw a sea of red drown the scoreboard.
Shane Lowry was another of the few positives to come out of this year’s European horror show. Making his maiden Ryder cup appearance Lowry holed a difficult putt on the final hole of his fourball match on the Saturday, keeping whatever slim hopes Europe had alive going into the final day. Lowry’s celebrations after making the putt showed how much it meant to him and despite the USA’s dominance with such a young team, the Offaly man is adamant Europe can stop an American Dynasty in the competition over the next decade.
The Ryder cup may not have gone according to plan for Europe, but the Irish duo of Lowry and McIlroy both showed how much the competition means to them with the latter in tears following his singles victory over Xander Schaufelle
Speaking to The Irish Independent, Lowry heaped praise on a number of the European team members, particularly John Rahm, Rory McIlroy, and Viktor Hovland, with an eye on being part of the European team who can hopefully reclaim the title in 2023 in Rome. The Ryder cup may not have gone according to plan for Europe, but the Irish duo of Lowry and McIlroy both showed how much the competition means to them with the latter in tears following his singles victory over Xander Schaufelle. 2023 will see both the men and women’s competitions take place in the same year once again where hopefully Leona Maguire can shine once more, and Lowry and McIlroy can help enact revenge for this year’s thrashing.