Editor’s Note: Golf Digest is recapping and analyzing every episode of the second series of the Netflix golf series Full Swing. Last season’s recaps can be found here.

Season 2 Recaps: Ep. 1: The Game Has Changed Part 1 | Ep. 2: The Game Has Changed Part 2 | Ep. 3: Mind Game | Ep. 4: Prove It | Ep. 5: In the Shadows | Ep. 6: Pick Six | Ep. 7: All Roads Lead to Rome Part 1 | Ep. 8: All Roads Lead to Rome Part 2 | Bonus: Season 2 Review

The Story

Episode Title: “All Roads Lead to Rome, Part 2”

Tagline: The Ryder Cup gets off to a shaky start for Team USA. Tensions run high after an incident on the 18th green. The epic battle comes to an emotional end.

After the Friday morning session in Rome, things looked incredibly bad for the Americans, despite the promise of an “epic battle” in the tagline for this episode, they stayed mostly bad all weekend. Netflix’s job here is to dramatize what had become a foregone conclusion, with some help from a Saturday evening brouhaha.

After a brief scene of Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry cracking up trying on each other’s hats in a scene that could have come directly out of a children’s book called “Too Big, Too Small!”, we’re on to Friday afternoon, with JT setting the table for a potential comeback. “I love a great comeback,” Zach Johnson affirms, adding “let’s give these guys a ****ing answer.” But somehow the Euro fans singing “stand up if you’re 4-nil up” while the American players already look shellshocked on the first tee seems to pack a bigger punch.

JT and Jordan go out first in what felt like a must-win, and despite being out of form, they play well enough to have a chance to win … but then don’t, having to settle for a halved match. In the middle of it, we cut to Keegan Bradley at home watching on TV, at least pretending very convincingly to root for the Americans after his snub, even getting his young son to cheer for Justin Thomas, his chief rival in the captain’s pick stakes.

Then it’s time for Rory to keep romping, which is set up by a clip of his struggles and his emotional interview at Whistling Straits. Now, he’s like a terrier, and Matt Fitzpatrick is finally having a good time after what had been an unbelievably miserable Ryder Cup career before Rome. “I think fourball might be his game,” Eric McIlroy says to Alex Fitzpatrick, a cheeky nod to the fact that he’s always wanted to play fourball and never been allowed.

They win going away, Fitzpatrick smiles more than he has in his entire life, and the session concludes with Justin Rose sinking a massive putt in the final match, and gesturing wildly to his teammates. He didn’t want to let the Americans get a full point on the board, and he too is ecstatic, telling his friends, “I wanted that moment with you all on the green!”

Zach Johnson gives an interview mumbling about his team’s “depth” while trying to pretend they still have a chance, but Europe’s cohesion led to a 6½-1½ lead. On the car ride home, he looks exhausted and dispirited, and seems to cancel a trip to some palace or the other in favor of whatever strategizing awaits him.

A tour of Rory’s disappointing year in the majors, complete with voiceover, alternates with scenes of him skipping rope with a gray Royal County Down t-shirt, which leads into Saturday, where we mostly skip past Europe winning the opening session 3-1 and putting a dagger into American hopes. Then we get right to the most exciting moment of a relatively unexciting Ryder Cup: the Cantlay/Clark vs. McIlroy/Fitzpatrick fourball match. You’ll recall the entire crowd taunting Cantlay for not wearing a hat amid reports that he was abstaining as a kind of protest for not being paid. Meanwhile, the Europeans took a significant lead in the match, but Cantlay found his stride in the final three holes, putting on a putting display that goes down as the highlight of the weekend for the Americans. It culminates on the 18th green, where he buries a ridiculous putt to effectively win the match.

That’s when Joe LaCava, obviously pissed after a day of being taunted by thousands of people, waves his hat and stomps around the green a little too long for European tastes, and all hell breaks loose. “Hey Joe, get out of the way you prick!” Shane Lowry yells, Rory conveys the same message, LaCava yells back at Lowry, and after Rory misses the putt, everybody gets in each other’s faces. But the confrontation is surprisingly tame—Lowry has words for LaCava, LaCava half apologizes, and Rose says it was funny but went on too long. Even the U.S. press conference was just minimizing the whole incident.

MORE: Our undercover caddie breaks down the Rory McIlroy-Joe LaCava heated exchange

What we don’t see is that Lowry apparently went off in the locker room—”they’re going to f***ing feel it tomorrow”—and then Rory and Bones Mackay had their big confrontation in the parking lot, which we only see from a distance. But Sunday comes, tempers have cooled, and despite the brief mirage of the U.S. having a chance to win, Europe puts on the finishing touches, with Tommy Fleetwood sealing the deal against Rickie Fowler, who still doesn’t quite get why maybe he shouldn’t have conceded the winning putt.

Zach Johnson is crying with his son, Donald cries too, JT consoles his teammates, and the Europeans celebrate long into the night.

The Good Stuff 1711707555

Octavio Passos

—The job was to tell the story of the Ryder Cup and tell it well, and I think they did the best job they could. That might sound like a backhanded compliment, but it’s not. What it means is that not having locker-room access—a major point of contention at least on Team USA, where it was rumored that Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay were among the group opposing it—clearly hurt them, and kept them from digging deep on certain elements that would have been very intriguing. Without that, they had to do their best, and at least to me they still managed to tell a compelling story that captured the spirit and emotion of the Ryder Cup and preserved some drama despite the lopsided score. This was their most straightforward episode, but straightforward doesn’t mean easy, and even as someone who lives and breathes the Ryder Cup, I enjoyed the journey here.

—Having the cameras running after LaCava’s celebration gave us a whole new look at the aftermath, and serves as an invaluable record for a very weird story. So much of the work of the “Full Swing” crew is just about being there at the right time, and here they nailed it. Best part of the episode.

—I also thought the talking heads were at their best in this episode, providing great context for a tournament that’s hard to explain either technically or emotionally if it’s not already in your blood.

—I didn’t love his explanation, but I did love that they took the time to get a quote from Rickie on the final concession. Nice attention to detail there.

—I’ve been relentless in hammering “Full Swing” for its use of the same exact kind of prefab indie folk they use at the climax of every episode, but I thought the Dermot Kennedy “Days Like This” track a solid closer. It’s also not the first time they’ve used Kennedy … I wonder if Rory got them a package deal.

—The climactic moments with the captains, both in tears for very different reasons, felt really effective.

The Duds 1709984325

Andrew Redington

—OK, your mileage may vary on how much we can blame Netflix for not giving us more than we already knew about the most incendiary moments from Rome. Normally, I’d put a lot on them for not getting the goods, but being denied locker-room access is an obvious mitigating factor here … nothing they could do about it. However, where was Rory talking about the LaCava incident, and everything that came after? This guy was arguably your main subject throughout the season, but he’s not going to say anything on one of the most fascinating moments of his year? To just leave it with the same clip of him and Bones we’ve seen a million times before feels like a pretty big miss. And what about the Cantlay/Schauffele controversy with the hat and their alleged mini-rebellion in the locker room? Surely they could have had somebody speak on that, instead of relying totally on Cantlay’s press conference denial. It has the faint whiff of self-censorship, or something, but whatever the reason, I thought they needed a lot more after being around this stuff for a full year.

—It’s a little bit wonky to me to have people in sit-down interviews speaking about the Ryder Cup as if they’re right in the middle of it—”we’re going to have to dig deep to make a comeback”—when it was clearly filmed afterward. Just use the past tense, and you can still keep the result unspoiled.

More from Golf Digest ‘The Loop’ We found out the hilarious thing Joel Dahmen and Geno Bonnalie were actually doing at Waffle House in ‘Full Swing’ Stray Thoughts

—The simple joy Lowry and Rory got just trying on each other’s hats almost made me envious. I want to live like that.

—If I’m Keegan Bradley, you better believe I’d be pulling so hard for Europe, and teaching my child various pro-Rory chants. I may be a bad person.

—Zach Johnson’s son made me laugh with his antics earlier in the season, but here he broke my heart. It’s all fun and games until some kid is crying in his dad’s shoulder. Gutting. I hope he is cheered up by the fact that I’m pretty sure his dad won a British Open, maybe.

—They didn’t really go into Fitzpatrick’s horrific Ryder Cup past, and it’s too bad, because knowing it makes you appreciate his victory moments even more.

—The Ryder Cup last year made me appreciate Justin Rose, and watching the Netflix perspective on his Ryder Cup made me appreciate him even more. If there’s a documentary about the documentary about the Ryder Cup, he might become my new idol.


Naomi Baker

—The scene with Zach Johnson in the car epitomized everything that is exhausting about the Ryder Cup, with a dash of disaster thrown in. Imagine working that hard for that long, considering every detail, and then you just get punched in the guy on Day 1 and watch it all crumble in front of you. Brrrrrrrrutal.

—Impressive jump roping by Rory, but was the medicine ball not available? I needed my medicine ball shot!

—The Guardians of the Cup and whatever the American-clad Vikings are called were included here, singing their Ryder Cup songs, and man, they were kind of a sorry sight. I feel like they hit the peak of their coolness in 2014 and 2016, and have been on a downward trajectory ever since, and their depiction here was just sad. Something happened along the way where they feel almost like sponsored content instead of organic and exciting … these people need to rejuvenate or retire.

—I’ll never stop laughing at Rose’s words to LaCava, and the polite way he said, “it was actually quite funny, just a touch too long.” Seeing the intensity of it from a distance versus Rose’s extremely polite rebuke is a terrific perception vs. reality moment.

—I don’t think I quite appreciated Cantlay’s run of putts to end that match … truly an insane feat in that environment after being universally mocked all day. You gotta tip your … well, you get it.


Andrew Redington

—I think it was Thomas Bjorn who said, “They’re going to ****ing feel it tomorrow.” Whoever it was, extremely badass, even better than Colsaerts with his “Welcome to the Ryder Cup!” salvo an episode earlier.

—It continues to be very funny to me that Lowry is the one that got Rory all furious in the locker room with his pump-up speech, but also the one trying to cool him down in the parking lot. This was your fault, Shane!

—I don’t know why, but Rory saying, “Jon, you make me want to be better” didn’t hit for me. It felt more staged than other moments we’ve seen from him.

—Not having a single appearance of Bobby Mac is a sin on the level of the No Blockie controversy from Oak Hill. Come on!

—Lastly, this episode had what I think is the funniest exchange of a very funny season:

Straka: You stole my moment. Fleetwood: What do you mean? Straka: I was about to up and down on 18 to win the cup. Fleetwood: Did you go up and down? Straka: Well not after you won it!

Chef’s kiss.

Final Assessment 1711774353

Octavio Passos

A good episode from a storytelling perspective, marred both by limited access and a seeming unwillingness to dig deep on a couple of critical parts of the Ryder Cup. And on the whole, this season was an improvement over Season 1, with more focused and realistic narratives overall, only three episodes that struck me as iffy, and two episodes—Dahman/Clark and JT/Keegan/Zach—that were phenomenal. You better believe I’m hoping for Season 3.

Listen to our ‘Full Swing’ reaction episode of The Loop podcast here: 

This article was originally published on golfdigest.com