Who should take blame for U.S. loss?

And which players should be MVPs at Medinah?

Originally Published: September 30, 2012
ESPN.com

The Americans led the Ryder Cup by four points heading into Sunday's 12 singles matches. The margin was insurmountable, right? Only once in history had a side ever come from that far back to win.

Yet that's exactly what the European squad pulled off in their 14½-13½ victory in the 39th staging of the Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club.

So who were the MVPs of both squads? And should anyone feel the blame for the American defeat?

Our experts tackle those topics and more in our latest edition of Ryder Cup Four-Ball.


1. Who shoulders the most blame for the Americans?


Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: The captain always gets the blame. He made the four captain's picks, and other than Dustin Johnson -- who went undefeated at 3-0-0 -- Brandt Snedeker, Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker went a combined 2-8-1. That's how you get the greatest collapse in Ryder Cup history and why you get the blame.

Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods. With a combined record of 1-9-1, those veteran players simply didn't get it done this week.

Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: It is hard to pin this on any player, because we're talking about one match going the other way to change the outcome. But Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker will shoulder most of the blame. Furyk lost the last two holes with bogeys after being 1 up. Stricker was tied with two holes to go and lost. Had both players just forged a tie, the U.S. has the Cup.

Gene Wojciechowski, ESPN.com senior national columnist: It's a shared blame. Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker will take the most heat, but this truly was a team semi-collapse.


2. What grade would you give captains Davis Love III and Jose Maria Olazabal?


Michael Collins: Even with the amazing collapse by the U.S. team, I still would give Davis Love III a C+. His only mistakes were in his captain's picks and the way he put his lineup out Sunday for the singles matches. Jose Maria Olazabal earns a B+. His lineup on Sunday and his benching of Kaymer for the day on Saturday was brilliant. If it hadn't have worked, he'd get a D, but it did.

Farrell Evans: Both captains earned an A for their leadership and sportsmanship. These matches came down to the players. That's the way it's supposed to happen.

Bob Harig: An A for both. They don't hit the shots. You can quibble about pairings and order, but in the end, it is the players that matter.

Gene Wojciechowski: I'm a hard grader. An A-plus for Olazabal, an F for Love. This is a zero-sum event.


3. Who are the MVPs for both teams?


Michael Collins: Ian Poulter won this Ryder Cup for Europe. He goes 4-0 and just refused to lose. His energy and fight are something that would happily be accepted by the U.S. team. For the Americans side, even though he lost his singles match, Keegan Bradley is the MVP. He went 3-1-0. His intensity and energy could be compared only to Poulter's. Bradley got more from Phil Mickelson than anyone else ever could have.

Farrell Evans: Ian Poulter (4-0-0) for the Europeans and Keegan Bradley (3-1-0) for the Americans. These players were the emotional leaders of their teams. And they were able to harness all that energy and charisma for some really good golf.

Bob Harig: Ian Poulter for Europe, Keegan Bradley for the United States. Poulter is simply amazing in the Ryder Cup, as he went 4-0 at Medinah and kept his team believing on Saturday when things looked bleak. Bradley went 3-1 as a rookie and brought a fire to the U.S. squad.

Gene Wojciechowski: Well, Ian Poulter is a no-brainer for the Europeans. And Keegan Bradley or maybe Dustin Johnson for Team USA.


4. What surprised you the most about Sunday's drama?


Michael Collins: I was most surprised with was the fact that the only half point earned this entire Ryder Cup was in the very last singles match Sunday and it was over when it happened. Tiger's only points earned was a half after he missed a 3-foot par putt on 18 that actually gave the European Team the win instead of the tie. One-half point for three days of competition? Unheard of in today's golf world.

Farrell Evans: I didn't expect the Americans to lose the first five matches. I thought they would win at least two of the first three. From the first match between Bubba Watson and Luke Donald, things seemed to favor the Europeans on Sunday.

Bob Harig: That it wasn't allowed to play out. The ending was bizarre. The U.S. had a chance to tie, but it was as if the last match between Tiger Woods and Francesco Molinari didn't matter. Why not? A 14-14 tie is different than losing, even if the U.S. wouldn't get the Ryder Cup.

Gene Wojciechowski: I never thought the 11th match would matter. But it did, of course. I'm stunned by the outcome, but never by Team Europe's effort.