Senior Staff Writer
The passion, the rivalry, the history. Everything that makes the Ryder Cup one of the unique events in sports. Last Sunday, the 43rd Ryder Cup concluded in stunning fashion as the United States triumphed in a 19-9 victory over the Europeans.
This year’s United States squad was statistically the most talented team in history with eight members ranked inside the top 10 in the Official World Golf Rankings. They were the overwhelming favorites coming into the event. However, the group consisted of six rookies bringing a great deal of uncertainty coming into the event. Journalists across the board were skeptical about the outcome, unsure about the United States’ chemistry and experience.
The rebuttals between Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau and Koepka’s motivation were the biggest concerns for the United States. Those concerns quickly dissipated as the United States took an early 6-2 lead after Friday’s matches. Koepka silenced the doubt behind his motivation as he and Daniel Berger put an early point on the board in the opening session.
The United States found themselves in a commanding lead heading into the Saturday Four-ball matches. However, the momentum shifted to the Europeans for the first time in the cup Saturday afternoon. World no. 1 Jon Rahm, alongside fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia, took care of business with a 2&1 victory in the opening match. The tides were finally starting to turn, Shane Lowry buried a 12-footer for par on the final hole to claim another point for the Europeans.
Although the U.S still held a 9-5 lead, the Europeans were making a charge as Viktor Hovland and Tommy Fleetwood led Bryson DeChambeau and Scottie Scheffler 1 up through 13 holes. Backs against the wall, DeChambeau, and Scheffler countered with four straight birdies en route to win the most crucial match of the week. With match four already won by the U.S, DeChambeau and Scheffler added the 11th point on the board for the United States and gave the team much-needed momentum heading into singles.
Singles were handled swiftly by the United States. In the end, it was Collin Morikawa’s three-footer on the 17th hole that solidified the cup. The United States team successfully flipped the headlines in their historic victory, the young group manifested a new sense of optimism, leaving many wondering of a potential United States dynasty in future Ryder Cups.
The entire team bought into the unconventional process laid out by captain Steve Stricker. Stricker didn’t make any motivational speeches or conduct unnecessary team bonding exercises. He trusted his players and told them to do what they do best. The team captain was asked afterward if he would be interested in being the captain again in Rome; he respectfully said no and was immediately interrupted by the entire team saying they want him back.
The United States has the potential to be successful for a long time to come as they have eight guys in their twenties, and for the first time, it seems like the young guys have bought into the rivalry of the Ryder Cup. Justin Thomas has been the most impactful player on the team, thriving under the Ryder Cup environment. Thomas firing up the crowds, chugging beers on the first tee, and bleeding the Red, White, and Blue was exactly the leader the United States needed to change the culture.
It’s premature to title this as the beginning of the dynasty. The U.S. has triumphed many times at home, but they always seem to take a step backward in their struggles to take down the Europeans on foreign soil. The last thirty years have seemed to repeat the same pattern. However, the comradery during the celebration of the U.S. win felt a bit different. The team aspect of the Ryder Cup has seemed a bit forced. Twelve players are supposed to flip their perspective on the guys they compete against week in and week out like magic. However, the U.S. team was exchanging banter, laughing, and supporting each other throughout the week. The guys seemed like a team instead of twelve individuals wearing Red, White, and Blue.
Steve Stricker assembled arguably the greatest Ryder Cup team ever, but it seemed like everything aligned just right for the team this week. The anticipation for the 44th Ryder Cup in Rome has already begun.