For the story will remain the harsh corrective, severe, unmitigated, harsh, unexpected for its cruelty, and never seen before, of USA beat Europe (19-9) in 43rd Ryder Cup. The American team, for which everything went well, everything in the face, with everything in its favor, in a week that its captain described as “very special”, had no rival in a Europe that was not enough with good predisposition and performance in the foursomes and fourballs of Jon Rahm and Sergio García and paid the null, nonexistent and unexpected contribution of the British bloc. These are the 5 keys to a historical KO.
THE CAPTAINS AND THE TEAM
Steve Stricker (USA) always advocated having a ‘team’, cohesive, united, strong, without any player standing out; He minimized the bad vibes between Koekpa and DeChambeau (both shook hands and congratulated each other after the USA festival) and always wanted his men, above all, to enjoy. He commented at the end of Ryder to American TV that work had cost him his players to go to sleep every day when he played. He played it with the six ‘rookies’ and it was expensive, as well as ‘hit’ with the ‘exclusion’ of Patrick Reed or Phil Mickelson. Padraig Harrington (Europe), who made a good impression in his opening speech, was overtaken by events. He did not have much margin with the ‘wild cards’ but at no time was he seen as a catalyst when it came to exciting and enthusing his players. It is not easy to be a captain on American soil. He also lost Darren Clarke in 2016, Nick Faldo in 2008 and Mark James in 1999, in what have been the last four USA victories. Txema Olazábal was the honorable exception in the Miracle of Medinah (2012). There is not always a reference, a soul and a spirit as combative as the one he had in the figure of his intimate Seve Ballesteros, cheering from the sky.
SENSITIVE DOWNS AND DISAPPOINTMENTS IN EUROPE
The USA had the best team by world rankings and with an average age of 29 years when in Europe it was 34.5. The USA did not miss Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed or Billy Horschel, but instead Europe noticed the absence of three bastions in the last victory in Paris’2018: Francesco Molinari (undefeated with 5 of 5 then) , Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson. Even Martin Kaymer. The first three woke up a bit late to join the Wisconsin team and Medinah’s hero is far from his triumphs in a US Open and a PGA, precisely in Whistling Straits in 2010. Not to mention the disappointments in this edition, all they British: McIlroy, Poulter, Westwood, Fitzpatrick, Casey, Fleetwood and Hatton. With Rahm and García alone in the face of danger, it was not enough. The European Tour should review the classification system for Rome’2023 taking into account that the vast majority of its players, today, have a career on the PGA Tour.
THE ROLE OF THE ROOKIES
The USA featured six on the team: Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Scottie Scheffler, Collin Morikawa, Harris English and Daniel Berger. Europe, three: Shane Lowry, Viktor Hovland and Bernd Wiesberger. The Americans were not weighed by the pressure of the moment at any time, on the contrary, while on the European side there were only certain glimpses of Lowry and a lot of predisposition from Hovland, called to write successful pages in the Ryder. But the data that decided the balance clearly for the US were the points obtained by both: 15.5 the Americans by 2 the Europeans. There is the data.
USA, ALL IN FAVOR
The US had its pride very touched after the defeat of Medinah 9 years ago. It was not the worst at home since in 2004, with Bernard Langer as captain, Europe gave a sovereign review to the Americans achieving the widest victory on Yankee soil (18.5-9.5), which they repeated in Ireland in 2006 At Whistling Straits, Stricker’s team had everything, everything, in their favor: the public, of course, who with some exceptions encouraged their people a lot; the daily absence of the wind, the success of his captain’s pairings, the effectiveness on the greens (they plugged everything with the putt), knowing how to take advantage of moments of European weakness and not opening the door to rivals when they they could get back into the fight.
EUROPE, WITHOUT A CHARISMATIC LEADER
In 1981, Europe suffered the worst defeat (and at home) until Sunday against an American team that included Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Lee Treviño, Johnnie Miller, Hale Irwin, Larry Nelson, Ray Floyd, Jerry Pate and Bill Rogers, all of them in fullness and who then added 35 Grand Slam titles! Tom Kite and Ben Crenshaw won them afterwards. Europe punished Seve Ballesteros for the ‘fixed’ starting points, not allowed then, leaving him out of the team when he had already won a British and a Masters and had been European No. 1 three times. And so it was: resounding KO. In 1983, in the midst of European disappointment for not having achieved the first victory in time (and on American soil), Seve came to the locker room and released a “no regrets, we have been about to beat them, man!”. In 1985 the historic triumph finally arrived at The Belfry, and in 1987, in Ohio, with the mythical couple Seve-Olazábal ‘on fire’. On top of that, he had won over at Nicklaus’s house. It was tied in 1989 and in 1991, the Spanish duo after finishing undefeated as a couple in Kiawah Island, when entering the European team room Seve on Saturday was received with olés, shouts of Seve, Seve !, applause and great cheers from all the team. He was the leader in body and soul, the shadow captain, the benchmark, an idol. He missed that Ryder by the minimum and by a putt of just over a meter that he did not want to enter. In 1995, in his last Ryder as a player, Seve was hitting him on the foot. He encouraged his fourball partner, David Gilford, by telling him on the 1st tee that he was playing with “the best in the world”, and in the individual against Tom Lehman, without stepping on a fairway and almost a green, he took the American (he did not understand nothing) until the 15th hole. When his teammates saw how far Seve had struggled, they said: “if playing as he is playing he has reached the 15th, we cannot fail him now.” Then the European comeback began, it was won against all odds and for history the image of the Cantabrian and Nick Faldo crying with emotion and hugging in the 18th hole remains. Seve was a pure and simple leader and Europe has not yet found his successor. Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy could have been. Jon Rahm is still on time.