Could Europe have done anything to prevent a record-breaking defeat at the Ryder Cup? Is it the start of a new era for Team USA? Mark Roe looks back at a dominant win for Steve Stricker's side at Whistling Straits.
Tuesday 28 September 2021 11:10, UK
I watched perhaps one of the greatest performances in Ryder Cup history by an American team. I’m a golf fan, I love golf, and it was simply a sublime performance from start to finish.
Let's just celebrate what is an astonishing American team who played brilliantly, on a great course and in front of an amazing atmosphere. Revel and enjoy the quality of the American team.
This is possibly the best prepared American team ever. In current form, they came into the event so much better than the Europeans and everybody there for Steve Stricker's side stepped up to the plate.
Look at Collin Morikawa with the summer he's had, you look at Patrick Cantlay after he ran through the FedExCup season, and you look at Tony Finau winning a FedExCup playoff event. So many of their players were running into form when it mattered.
Dustin Johnson went 5-0 to become the first person since Larry Nelson to come up with that, having been the one person not quite bubbling along pre-tournament as perhaps many of the others were. Even Brooks Koepka, who was half-injured on the way in, got two points.
Scottie Scheffler was the only one that hadn't won on the PGA Tour, but everyone knows what a class ball-striker he is going to a course like Whistling Straits and didn't disappoint in any way, shape or form.
The big difference for me was the trip they took to Whistling Straits two weeks before, with Koepka only missing out through injury. The team were cohesive and bonded, which was something that never happened in the past.
It always seemed like Europe were previously the team with all the camaraderie and spirit and that the Americans were 12 individuals, but now it doesn't seem that way. Whatever has happened, whatever lessons they have been learned, there is a better team spirit within USA. These are multi-millionaire superstars, but the Ryder Cup now seems immensely more important on their records.
We've got great European players, but many seemed to peak much earlier in the season and were just drifting a little bit coming in. In contrast, the Americans didn't have a player outside the top 21 in the world rankings and had eight of the world's top 10 in their team.
I'm not going to criticise Padraig Harrington in any way shape or form, although some people may do after such a heavy defeat. This was a golfing juggernaut heading down the highway and you weren't going to stop it.
Maybe it's just a freak of Ryder Cup that you get so many players coming in such great form. The whole environment was a bunch of superstars coming together in cohesion for the first time, the perfect storm if you like. Some of the golf was just outstanding and nobody can live with that level.
You can change the world and revolutionise the Ryder Cup selection and how we go about things, but we're not saying that when we win. We've had a fantastic run over recent years and you've still go to accept that home advantage is massive, with seven of the last eight won by the home team.
We don't need to change everything. The only thing we could change is the time frame for qualifying, as that only finished at the BMW PGA Championship a couple of weeks beforehand and perhaps the players could do with a little more time.
I understand Harrington was very analytical and very stat-based, but Paul McGinley was the same when he was captain in 2014 and we didn't criticise him. At the end of the day, the players have got to turn up to play, but I think that was one of the toughest gigs that any Ryder Cup team has faced.
I'm not worried about the result. I know the European team will be stinging and many will be upset that they didn't perform, but they were still part of the amazing spectacle that is the Ryder Cup. That spectacle will still be amazing at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in 2023.
Let's not panic about the depth and talent on the European Tour. We've got the Hojgaard twins that won in consecutive weeks, we've got Migliozzi finishing fourth at the US Open and I could go on and on about the young stars coming through.
Even if that is the end for some of the older guard like Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, there is plenty of young talent around on the European Tour and a strong young core already set in our Ryder Cup future.