Danny Willett ended a bad week on another sour note as his Ryder Cup debut turned into a nightmare which concluded with defeat to the United States.
The Sheffield golfer was comprehensively outplayed by singles opponent Brooks Koepka, losing 5&4 to ensure he ended his Ryder Cup debut having failed to pick up a single point for Europe.
Fellow Sheffielder Matt Fitzpatrick also finished the weekend empty handed as he was beaten 4&3 by Zach Johnson, with the Americans surging to their first win since 2008, by a score of 17-11.
Fitzpatrick’s only other outing came in the Saturday morning foresomes as he and Martin Kaymer suffered a 5&4 defeat to Brandt Snedeker and Koepka.
And the 22-year-old can look back on his Ryder Cup bow as a tough weekend from which to learn, and one where it was not to be for Europe.
But Hackenthorpe’s Willett will likely want to forget his week in Hazeltine as quickly as possible.
It began with controversy – and an unwanted headache for captain Darren Clarke – with the publication of a column written by his brother Peter.
Though the tone of the piece was firmly tongue-in-cheek, scathing comments about American fans only served to create a furore to greet Willett in Minnesota.
It left the meticulous Clarke fuming as he was forced to answer questions on something that was out of his control on the eve of the competition.
And Willett admitted it put ‘a bit of a downer’ on his first outing in the Ryder Cup, one where he was expected to play a significant role as one of Europe’s leading men.
Whether or not it was a factor, Willett – who turns 29 today – was not fielded among the opening foursomes on Friday, bring more unwanted questions for the European captain.
Willett could only watch in frustration as his European team mates were outplayed by their US hosts, who surged into a 4-0 lead.
And from there, Europe were always playing catch-up against a group that was simply better.
There was a brave effort on Friday afternoon in the fourballs, where Willett’s pairing with Kaymer was the only European loss as the score was clawed back to 5-3.
Willett again sat out the foursomes on Saturday morning as Europe closed the gap further to 6.5-5.5.
He returned to action in the afternoon fourballs alongside Worksop’s Lee Westwood.
But the end to their match summed up an afternoon of frustration for Europe.
They gifted the US pair of JB Holmes and Ryan Moore the lead on 17 and missed opportunities to secure a half on the final hole.
The 3-1 session win for the Americans left them needing just five points away from winning the Ryder Cup.
Clarke sent out his big guns in the first of the singles matches – notably not Masters champion Willett who was one of four rookies in the final five matches, along with Fitzpatrick.
The task was clear for Europe – hurt the US early and give the rookies a chance of picking up the points to retain the trophy.
But the early matches were incredibly competitive affairs on a brilliant day of golf.
The superb Patrick Reed edged a ding-dong battle with Rory McIlroy in the first match to set the Americans on their way to an inevitable victory.
Thoroughly off-form, Willett provided scant resistance against Koepka, making just two birdies as he fell to the biggest defeat of the day.
In the final match, Fitzpatrick fell behind to Johnson on the ninth and never recovered as Europe’s chances faded.
Defeat was confirmed as Westwood lost to Ryan Moore on the 17th, taking the Americans past the magic 14.5 point mark needed for victory.