A new era of American golfers sent a message this past Sunday with a record-setting Ryder Cup blowout of Europe, their young and talented core looking ready to dominate for years.
With eight under-30 players and six Ryder Cup rookies, the Americans completed a 19-9 rout of Europe at Whistling Straits that signaled a generational change to the world.
Farewell Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Say hello to Tokyo Olympic champion Xander Schauffele, two-time Major winner Collin Morikawa, US PGA playoff champion Patrick Cantlay and Scottie Scheffler, 20-something stars.
“We have a lot of young guys, they’re going to be on teams for a long time and I wanted to send a message,” said Cantlay. “Everyone has that killer instinct and we’re going to bring that to future Cups.
“This is going to be the next era of Ryder Cup teams for the US side.”
The most lopsided victory since the US-Europe format began in 1979 served notice that a squad with nine of the world’s 11 top-ranked players was on a mission.
“This is a new era for USA golf,” US captain Steve Stricker said. “They are young. They are motivated. They wanted it. They come with a lot of energy, a lot of passion, a lot of game. It’s exciting to see. This is a very special group of guys.”
Third-ranked Morikawa (24) and fourth-ranked Cantlay (29) each delivered 3.5 points. Fifth-ranked Schauffele (27) had 3 points and world No 21 Scheffler (25) had 2.5, the last in a 4 & 3 singles win over Spanish world No 1 Jon Rahm.
And they were all rookies along with 11th-ranked Harris English (32) and 16th-ranked Daniel Berger (28).
“We showed the world what we can do as a team and I think it’s the precedent for the future of American golf,” said US veteran Tony Finau.
Pals Cantlay and Schauffele figure to be a US pairs powerhouse for years and the clubhouse chemistry promises a tighter bond than prior eras.
“I think the young guys on this team get along really well,” Cantlay said. “We sent out rookies four out of the first five [singles] matches. That’s unheard of. Everybody gets along.”
Morikawa delivered the Cup-clinching half point in a tie with Norway’s Viktor Hovland and Cantlay beat Ireland’s Shane Lowry 4 & 2 while Scheffler’s upset and Bryson DeChambeau’s 3 & 2 win over Sergio Garcia silenced Europe’s winningest players for the week when it mattered most.
“It’s a different group of guys. It’s a lot more fun than years past,” four-time Major winner Brooks Koepka said. “It’s a very close-knit group of guys. Everybody is a bit younger and everybody has known each other for 15-plus years it feels like.”
Europe veteran Lee Westwood delivered high praise to the conquerors.
“It’s not just the strongest US team I’ve seen, but they all played well, to a man,” he said. “Everybody performed and turned up this week. Looks like they are a team.”
At the next Ryder Cup in 2023 in Italy, the new-look Americans will try to win the trophy away from US soil for the first time since 1993.
“We’ve lost a lot looking back at the past. But that’s the past. We’re hopefully what the future is going to be like,” Morikawa said. “Hopefully we can turn that tide in our favour for however many years I’m able to play this.”
The American rookies went 3-2 with one tied in singles after going 11-2-2 in foursome and four-ball pairs matches, the best win rate for any rookies for either side since the US-Europe format began in 1979.
“That rookie thing, it seems like with this group is overrated,” Stricker said. “Four of those six have experience in the Presidents Cup. They were ready.”
And their rivals had better be ready for what’s coming.
“We’ve all known each other for a long time,” US veteran Jordan Spieth said. “Other than a couple of us, we’ve known each other since high school or even grade school. We are having a blast off the course and that’s feeding into our rounds as well.”
Sunday’s singles results:
Rory McIlroy (EUR) bt Xander Schauffele (USA) 3 & 2
Patrick Cantlay (USA) bt Shane Lowry (EUR) 4 & 2
Scottie Scheffler (USA) bt Jon Rahm (EUR) 4 & 3
Bryson DeChambeau (USA) bt Sergio Garcia (EUR) 3 & 2
Collin Morikawa (USA) and Viktor Hovland (EUR) tied
Dustin Johnson (USA) bt Paul Casey (EUR) 1 up
Brooks Koepka (USA) bt Bernd Wiesberger (EUR) 2 & 1
Ian Poulter (EUR) bt Tony Finau (USA) 3 & 2
Justin Thomas (USA) bt Tyrrell Hatton (EUR) 4 & 3
Lee Westwood (EUR) bt Harris English (USA) 1 up
Jordan Spieth (USA) and Tommy Fleetwood (EUR) tied
Daniel Berger (USA) bt Matthew Fitzpatrick (EUR) 1 up
Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
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