Lessons Learned From the USA's Ryder Cup Collapse

Learn two critical sport psychology lessons from the US's demise at the 2012 Ryder Cup.

Phil Mickelson

"You don't tug on Superman's cape." But that's exactly what the U.S. team did in the 2012 Ryder Cup. Through three matches, Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley (the duo nicknamed "Keegleson") were the hottest pair of golfers in the history of the event. They dominated their matches, winning by four, two and seven strokes. They even whipped the pairing of Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia, who were previously unbeaten together. (Learn how to stay cool on the course.)

The U.S. was riding high after the morning session on Saturday, leading 8-4. At this point, it was all but assured that the U.S. would reclaim the Ryder Cup. So, Keegleson sat out the afternoon session in order to rest for Sunday's singles matches. This is when it all changed. Europe closed Saturday's matches down 10-6, which set up the greatest Sunday comeback in Ryder Cup history.

Sitting Mickelson and Bradley proved devastating, because it gave Europe a catalyst for their comeback. This colossal mistake highlights the importance of sticking to the game plan when something is working. Don't do anything different that can disrupt success.

If you lose, always lose with your best team on the field. Even if Keegleson had lost their Saturday afternoon match, there would have been no doubt that they put their best effort forward. And they still would have mustered enough strength to play their singles matches on Sunday.

On the other hand, when something isn't working, do something different. Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker went winless at the Ryder Cup. Yet, the pair remained together. Granted, it had worked in the past, but they were clearly having problems. So, it would have made sense to make an adjustment to see if another pairing would work better.

Photo: upi.com

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