Phil Casey reflects on US assistant captain Steve Jones’ claims about the US’ record defeat at Oakland Hills in 2004.

As assistant captain to Hal Sutton at the 2004 Ryder Cup, Steve Jones is well placed to reveal what was to blame for the United States’ record defeat at Oakland Hills.
So was it the decision to defy conventional wisdom and pair Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson together, not once but twice on the opening day?
Was it Mickelson’s decision to change clubs just before the contest in Detroit which ended in a European victory by 18.5 to 9.5?
Or was it simply that Bernhard Langer’s side were the better players over the three days?
According to Jones, the reason was out of even the hyper-meticulous Langer’s control. It was the weather.
“A lot of people asked what happened,” Jones said during last week’s Valle Romano Open de Andalucia.
“Our team was playing so well Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and the Europeans were adjusting all the time and weren’t playing so good.
“Then the weather changed and went to about 40 degrees on the first morning. I was out there and it was freezing. We were missing putts and the Europeans were making them. I really believe the weather had a lot to do with it.”
To be fair to Jones, the 48-year-old did acknowledge there were other contributing factors.
“Phil changed clubs and he never adjusted,” he added. “In hindsight, when Hal and I were talking, maybe we shouldn’t have put him with Tiger because Phil wasn’t playing like he was a month or two before.”
Of course Europe also conquered far worse weather to win by the same margin at the K Club in Ireland last September, and Jones admits the Americans are now getting “pounded” in a competition they dominated for 60 years.
“If we can turn one around then maybe the momentum will change, but you have to get that first one,” added the 1996 US Open champion, whose sole major victory came at Oakland Hills.
“Then we can start going the other way. Right now we’re down and we keep getting pounded and it’s hard to get up.”