The USA Ryder Cup team has been the subject of a lot of criticism over the last few decades. A few heart-breaking collapses, blowouts despite being constant favorites, and internal turmoil amongst the team had left fans and players alike with a bad taste in their mouth. With the 2020 Ryder Cup being postponed to this year, Americans were very anxious to see change within the team. Leading up to this weekend, this felt like a very pivotal Ryder Cup for the American team. They had the “home field advantage” playing at Whistling Straits, and also had a massive advantage in team talent. 11 of the top 12 ranked players participating in the Ryder Cup were sporting the red, white, and blue. But until it was all said and done, nothing was certain for this team.
The Americans were able to jump out to an early lead on Friday morning, winning three of the four foursome matchups. Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele had the standout performance of the morning, winning 5 & 3 against Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter. The one man that everybody knew was going to give the US team fits was Jon Rahm, who made a point to carry the Europeans on his back the whole weekend. Rahm and Sergio Garcia were the single European pairing to win on Friday morning against the United States’ Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth.
The United States kept the pressure on in the afternoon rounds on Friday, winning two more matches and halving the other two. Dustin Johnson, who has had his share of struggles in past Ryder Cups, was paired up with Xander Schauffele and the two were able to hang on to a 2 & 1 victory, despite a late push from Paul Casey and Bernd Weisberger. Rahm once again proved to be a thorn in the side of the USA team with a win on the 18th whole to halve his match with Tyrell Hatton against Bryson DeChambeau and Scottie Scheffler. Rory McIlroy took his second beatdown of the day at the hands of Harris English and Tony Finau who won 4 & 3 against Rory and Shane Lowry.
The match of the day, and arguably the match of the weekend took place on Saturday morning. Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas took on Viktor Hovland and Bernd Weisberger in a back-and-forth match that took a big push on the back nine and a win on the 18th hole to secure a 2 up victory for Spieth and Thomas. The Americans once again won three of the four morning rounds, losing only to none other than Jon Rahm. Rahm and Sergio matched up against Brooks Koepka and Daniel Berger and beat them 3 & 1 in the Europeans sole victory of the morning round. When people call Jon Rahm the best golfer on the planet, you’d be foolish to think otherwise.
Rahm and Garcia won again on Saturday afternoon against Koepka and Jordan Spieth in a match that looked like Rahm would finally lose. The Europeans won holes 15 and 16 to give them a two-hole lead and a tie on 17 was all they needed to secure Rahm’s third win of four rounds he had already played going into Sunday Singles. The United States and Europe split the Saturday afternoon rounds 2-2 but by that point, the Americans’ lead looked insurmountable. They were up 11-5 going into Sunday Singles, which was the team’s biggest lead going into Sunday since 1975. It was as good as the team had looked in decades.
The United States monster lead after Saturday was clearly not enough for the team. Of the 12 singles’ matches, the United States won seven of them and tied two. Leaving only three individual wins for the Europeans. Rory McIlroy finally got his first and only win of the weekend on Sunday against Xander Schauffele, along with Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood. On the other side, Patrick Cantlay, Scottie Scheffler, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, and Daniel Berger all walked off the 18th green with victories for the stars and stripes. It was as well-rounded a performance as I personally had ever seen from a United States Ryder Cup team. The only way that team would have lost this year is if Europe had 12 Jon Rahms instead of just one.
The celebration after the last round on Sunday was a very heart-warming scene for American golf fans. The United States finally got the monkey off their back from the last two decades of underperforming. Steve Stricker, the United States team captain, deserves a tremendous amount of credit for putting together such a dominant team. The home fans really showed their appreication for the team’s performance and you could tell how much it meant to the guys who were a part of it. They even got a special shoutout via twitter from the Boss-Man himself, Tiger Woods.
A weekend that is already being coined as “Slaughter by the water” was capped off with a final score of 19-9, the largest margin of victory since Europe joined the Ryder Cup. Team captain, Steve Stricker was at the podium after Sunday’s rounds and said “You know, I never won a major, but this is my major right here”.
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