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Picked for a reason, U.S. veterans don't deliver

| Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, 9:12 p.m.

MEDINAH, Ill. — Steve Stricker stared blankly across the fairway, his hand on his face, as the celebration went on around him.

Jim Furyk had his moment of despair a few minutes earlier, leaning over with his hands on his knees as if he were trying to keep from getting sick after his final putt on the 18th green slid by the hole.

They were supposed to be the backbone of the U.S. Ryder Cup team, the veteran players captain Davis Love III could count on when things got tough.

Love picked them both to do just that after they didn't qualify for the team on their own.

But the stifling pressure of the Ryder Cup was simply too much.

Both had great chances to give the U.S. the point — or even half-point — the home team desperately needed to win the Cup when everything started to go bad. Both failed, leading to a home-team collapse unlike any in Ryder Cup history.

All Furyk needed to do was par one of the last two holes to get a half-point, and he couldn't. Stricker needed pars on the final two holes and didn't make them.

In the end, all they could do was watch as Martin Kaymer made a 6-foot par putt that sealed their fate.

“We put a lot of expectations on ourselves to perform,” Stricker said. “And sometimes it's good and bad.”

For Stricker, it was a terrible ending to what had already been a lousy week.

He was sent out three times with Tiger Woods to win points on the first two days, only to come back empty each time.

Had he and Woods been able to contribute even something, a big U.S. lead going into the last day might have been insurmountable. But they were beaten each time, twice in better ball and once in alternate shot.

That didn't keep Love from following his plan to send Stricker and Woods off in the final two pairings Sunday. It hardly looked as if they would be needed with the U.S. leading, 10-6, going into singles play, but Love felt better having them there just in case.

“We put who we thought was our hot players up front,” Love said, “and we put who we thought was our steady players in the back that would get us points.”

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