Team Europe has some work to do

Each week we ask our panel of writers, PGA members and golf industry experts to weigh in with their views on the hot topics of the day.

On Sunday at the Ryder Cup, Team USA defeated Team Europe 19-9. It was a totally dominating performance by the Americans as they won all five sessions. What was your biggest takeaway from their win?

Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): More than anything, for me, it was their camaraderie.  For the first time in years, it looked like the Americans LIKED each other and were having fun (winning does that, I know).   Koepka even hugged DeChambeau at the end – who would’ve expected that?  My other takeaway was reinforcement of the fact that I can’t stand Brooks Koepka.  His childish behaviour and superior attitude about his bad lie on Saturday was shameful… then he warned two officials that THEY would be effing responsible if he injured his wrist again.  Doubly shameful.

Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): Honestly shocking to me how dominating Team USA was. Even though on paper the US team was clearly favoured, I really thought Team Europe was going to win. For me noticeable things were: 1. how good these guys short games are. I saw so many amazing shots out of the junk by both sides, it was impressive. 2. The golf course. What a golf course especially for this event, it was setup perfectly for these guys. 3. God love the USA, but the fans were nauseating.

Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Hall of Fame Member, PGA of Canada: My takeaway is that the Ryder Cup is really BIG business. It required the USA Team finally being serious enough to form a task force, build a long-term plan and execute it. Unless Europe makes some changes, they could be in for a difficult future. I thought the USPGA President, Jim Richerson made the most thoughtless welcoming speech when he completely ignored introducing, acknowledging our even welcoming the European Team to the USA. He did recognize the USA Team but not the European Team.  Harrington was the classiest person in the entire proceedings. He was articulate, intelligent, organized, entertaining and lovable. He even shaved for the occasion and none of the Euros attended any Media responsibilities with a huge wad of turquoise bubble gum flopping around in their mouths like a load of laundry in the dryer.

Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: It was a dramatic changing of the guard. Finally, the US team was represented by the generation that is dominating the PGA Tour in real time and spots weren’t earned by reputations. And, finally, the US has a team that is a team. As Koepka said, most of the young guys have been playing with and against each other since junior golf. This new core could dominate the Cup for quite a while.

Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): Great entertainment! The American team looks pretty set for the next 10-15 years with a solid core of young guys who seem to enjoy each other’s company and can play well together. More importantly, they don’t have a lot of baggage from all the previous American losses. If golf can produce a Dream Team, this was and will be it.

Team Europe never looked like they were in it right from the start. Obviously, they got outplayed but did Padraig Harrington make some blunders either with his captain’s picks or the players he chose to play each day?

Deeks: We can all second-guess decisions, but I don’t think Padraig made any significant mistakes.  He just didn’t have the fire power, plain and simple.  You might wonder about the wisdom of picking three old guys for the team – Westwood, Casey, Garcia – but if the Euros had won, we would’ve said having those three on the team was a masterstroke.  But they didn’t, and we won’t.

Loughry: It’s funny, I don’t blame the captain, the players simply stunk in most cases. I’m not sure many changes in personnel would have changed the outcome. Making some putts/shots would have. But listen, some great golf was played, it was just mostly played by one side unfortunately.

Schurman: Second-guessing a losing Captain is fair game. It goes with the title. Europe is in the same transition faced by the USA immediately following the last Ryder Cup. Woods will probably never compete at this level again and Mickelson’s light is flashing amber. So, Stricker seized the moment and employed six rookies. Europe is more than likely facing the last matches played by Westwood, Garcia (maybe) and Poulter. Thus comes the end of an era. In the USA case what a relief to unload TW and Phil. In Europe’s case, they are about to lose three of the best players for their Team of all time. Strangely, the three European oldsters did produce some points more than the rest of the team. Last week, I predicted Europe would out-putt the USA and win the cup. I thought so because I thought they would fare better in the wind. Alas, not to be. The silver lining for Europe is the next three Captains: Westwood, Poulter and then Garcia. Europe’s huge failure came from inside 10 ft. They were simply awful. One very overlooked result is how many matches turned on one stroke. Case in point JD won 5 points and defeated Casey in the Singles by making 8 birdies and received all due accolades. He only won by +1.

Quinn: Don’t think that there was anything Padraig could have done to change the outcome. The Americans now have a large group of generational talents that could send the Cup back into the US-dominant doldrums that almost killed if off. The handful of young Euro stars will make fabulous shots and make it interesting but will need a lot of luck to get the Cup back for a few sessions to come.

Mumford: Tough to find fault with Harrington’s decisions. Maybe he sent Paul Casey out one too many times when he clearly couldn’t sink a putt, but it wouldn’t have made much difference when nobody else was really stepping up. Perhaps the biggest problem was the team selection process. It’s meant to protect the European Tour but handcuffs the captain. If Paddy had six captain’s picks as Stricker did, he might have been able to alter the team a bit. But I’m not sure if any group of European players could have beaten this US team.

There were dozens of highlights from three days of play – great recovery shots, long putts made and epic head-to-head battles. What was your personal favourite?

Deeks: So many otherworldly golf shots, it’s hard to pick one.  But I loved Jordan Spieth’s wedge shot out of a 90-degree greenside lie in the fourball match on Saturday, in which he was so far off balance on the follow-through, he had to run down the hill, almost into Lake Michigan, to stay on his feet.  One of many Spieth highlights over the years that have made this guy look so human, so enthusiastic, so good, and so likeable.  One other highlight for me was the golf course itself… fascinating, ruggedly beautiful, and downright scary!   I was honestly looking into the Toronto-Milwaukee flight schedules on Sunday, for a possible visit, with clubs, to Whistling Straits.

Loughry: I have two favourites. First, was the recovery shot Spieth hit from the greenside fescue hill. He took a full swipe, hit the ball at least 60 yards virtually straight up, and landing it 6 feet from the hole. That was impressive. The second, was BAM BAM Bryson smashing a 417-yard drive on the par 5, that was 120 yards up on all other players. That line was insane. Another close moment was Bryson driving the green on the first hole in his match vs Sergio and making the putt for an eagle 2. HELLO!

Schurman: You can’t get past this question without acknowledging Spieth’s amazing sidehill, moon shot or DeChambeau’s drive in the singles on the 1st hole setting up an eagle. I also had many that surprised me. I wondered how the best players in the world could hit the ball so far wide of the green on a par 3 and end up in Lake Michigan particularly when they were following their opponents who had just done the same thing. BTW This course could have been set up a lot more difficult than it was and I enjoyed the best players forced to manoeuvre the ball instead of freely ripping shots all over the course while shooting -20.

Quinn: Was genuinely surprised Monday when a number of golfers and golf fans said they hadn’t watched much of the Cup because it was so one-sided. Obviously, they missed the point entirely. The course was so spectacular and ideal for the competition, and the shotmaking in every match — no matter the score — was incredible. There was a personal favourite shot candidate in every match. Recorded and watched the entire thing, though because of time constraints, sadly had to fast forward past the 182 BMW-Alexa ads.

Mumford: The golf course and the way it was set up were perfect for match play. Spieth and DeChambeau contributed highlight reels, Rahm sank putts from everywhere. My favourite moment was when Shane Lowry sank his par putt on the 18th hole in Saturday foursomes to clinch a point. His emotional reaction perfectly symbolized what the Ryder Cup means to these guys and why we find the competition so compelling. I’m not sure Lowry was that excited when he won the Open Championship.

Peter Mumford
Peter Mumford is the Editor of Fairways Magazine. He's played over 500 different courses in 21 countries and met some fascinating people along the way. He's also a long-suffering Toronto Maple Leafs fan.

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