It is THAT simple. The US didn’t lose it. Hunter Mahan was brought to tears in his post-match interview. Why? Because he felt he had let his teammates down. The Cup seemingly rested on his shoulders and he wasn’t able to perform. This attitude always troubles me. It’s as though we establish that the opponent has X capability and all we have to do is perform at Y in order to win. I hope we all know that it isn’t that simple.

I remember as a youngster playing golf with no thought of winning or losing — only the anticipation of the next shot. If I hit a bad shot, there was only the eagerness for a new challenge with the next one. That’s all there was — no good shot or bad shot — no scolding myself when I hit that dreaded pull hook or patting myself on the back for making a 10 footer. The game was pure. I sometimes think it would be better for us to play the game without scoring once in a while.

But we don’t know that Hunter Mahan had fears of losing. I didn’t see any indication that he succumbed to that fault. Some people have commented that such a dramatic loss could damage his young mind. I don’t think so.

Hunter Mahan may be young (27), but he’s been playing golf competitively at a high level for more than 10 years. And while the stage may never have been as big, I’ll bet he’s made more serious errors in losing. In this case he had trailed by three holes, closed to being one down and then McDowell birdied the 16th to put him dormie on the 17th. You have to give McDowell credit. He stalled Mahan’s momentum with a birdie and kept his composure. Let’s not forget that McDowell did win the U.S. Open this year.

Often we are blitzed with “media-bites” that hope to capture the essence of The Ryder Cup. The event involves a unique set of circumstances that triggers a lot of different emotions. We have professional golfers playing for pride instead of money. Nationalism versus individualism is the motivation and they are confronted or bolstered with wild screaming fans rather than the usually more reserved cheering or even polite applause. And yet, there is a sense of camaraderie and respect from the fans, but especially among the players.

The Ryder Cup is as much a happening as it is a competition. There have been occasions when that seemed threatened. About 10 years ago there was the Justin Leonard episode (on top of other situations) at The Country Club in Brookline. But then there were similar experiences for the Americans at the K Club and The Belfry. Thankfully, the spirit of nationalism remains high, but the fans seem to know when to be respectful or at least less confrontational.

Perhaps the most poignant remarks this year were by Jeff Overton. He was interviewed after winning his singles match with Ross Fisher. Overton was emotional, but not in the sense of having won or lost. He wasn’t eloquent in his language, but he was moving in his contemplations. Paraphrasing it wouldn’t do it justice, so here it is — Jeff Overton, word for word:

“This whole event has been awesome. I can’t describe the emotional feelings you get, especially with all of the crowd, the fans, that come out and support the event. It’s a dream come true to be a part of and win or lose, it’s all about the sport, and you know, the way that everything is — the way everything is handled and everything, you know, all the way down the line. It’s just really cool to see and to be a part of, it’s just a great game and this is one of the best sporting events probably in the world.”

A golf architect in New Hampshire for over 20 years, Armstrong brought her craft to Las Cruces last January. She is the founder of Armstrong Golf Architects, which provides planning, designing, permitting and construction monitoring services for golf course projects. You can comment on her writing and view past articles at her blog: