Dan Whittaker's Weekend Takeaway: Driving is an art lost on the Americans
Like many of us, Dan Whittaker was glued to the action over the three days at Le Golf National.
So why did Europe come out on top? Did Jim Furyk get his pairings wrong? Was the course set up correctly?
We caught up with the elite coach for his take on why the American’s failed to deliver…
The way the American team was set up on Sunday seemed to be a bit better, but overall it was the way they drove the ball throughout which was the problem.
They just couldn’t seem to keep it on the course from the tee – particularly on Friday and Saturday.
Going into the foursomes I thought there were a couple of bad decisions from captain Jim Furyk.
Putting Mickelson out in the foursomes when he had the snap hooks off the tee, was a really bad idea.
Patrick Reed has now come out and said he was unhappy because he wanted to be paired with Jordan Spieth. Whether that’s him looking for a bit of an excuse or not, I don’t know.
I do think they way they were all struggling off the tee, let’s take someone like Bryson DeChambeau as an example whose long game wasn’t looking good, it would have made a lot more sense for these guys to be in the fourballs rather than the foursomes.
Maybe pairing him with Mickelson in the fourballs would have been a better idea.
I don’t think the course was set up in a way that it took driver out of play because it was long enough to warrant hitting driver on lots of holes.
But if you were going to be crooked with the driver then you got the penalty for it.
It goes to show how TV can actually make American golf courses look like they are set up as tight when they are actually not.
We heard the Americans complaining about the course being tight but we didn’t hear that from the Europeans once.
I think accuracy off the tee is an art in golf that is, unfortunately, being lost.
Yes, it’s a long golf course but if you can’t be accurate off the tee when the rough it as think as it was at Le Golf National, all of a sudden, you can’t get a wedge and gouge it onto the green and make birdie.
It’s a hack out and it is actually a penalty shot. I’d actually like to see more tour events set up like this.
It certainly wasn’t the same Tiger we had seen in the previous few tour events.
Even in the singles, it was clear that either his back was hurting or he was a bit physically fatigued.
It’s very difficult to say who is the right partner for Tiger.
I thought Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas were a natural pairing because they are really good mates.
It reminded me of a Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood sort of partnership. Players who would hang around together away from the golf course.
They play practice rounds together, they go on holiday together.
I thought he maybe could have put Tiger out in the fourballs with someone like Brooks Koepka.
I don’t think you can take anything away from the European team. The standard of golf was fantastic.
In the Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton match on Friday morning, which they lost, they were 8 under par for their betterball score.
Hatton said that in all their matches, they didn’t have a bogey – that’s very impressive.
If you’re playing betterball and you’re getting five or six under par on a golf course as tight as that, you’re going to be hard to beat.
I don’t think it was all a case of the Americans playing badly – Europe played really well.
The way they drove the ball, it seems the individual games of the European players were more suited to that golf course.
Prior to this year his Achilles Heel has been his putting. But since he’s been working with Phil Kenyon his putting has been fantastic.
His long game has always been really good.
He’s got Dave Alred in their as his performance coach as well so when you put all of those things together, you’re creating a guy who is very difficult to beat.
I’m looking at the team around Molinari – it’s very much a modern golfer’s team.
The performance coach, the strength and conditioning coach, the putting coach and Denis Pugh in there for the swing and the short game coaching.
You put that all together and you’ve got the complete package.
It’s that performance coaching where you’re going to get that extra 1% out of yourself from.
The defining factor
If I could put Europe’s success as a team down to one thing, it would be their tee-to-green game being far superior.
Rather than it being a case of smashing it out there, wedging it on and it turning into a putting competition – it was actually about proper ball striking.
If you’re going to set up a course for the American team to win it’s quite simple.
They all hit it miles so you’d have it at 8,000 yards and you’d have the greens really soft and it would be wide open.
If a course was set up like that then the Americans would probably win.
They hit it miles. When they were in the fairway they were often 40 or 50 yards further down than the Europeans.
But because you had to be accurate, it almost negated their superior length.
Dan Whittaker is an elite golf swing and performance coach based at High Legh. For more information, visit his website.