Sergio Garcia flew the flag for Europe when he won the Masters back in April beating Justin Rose in a playoff. Since then it’s been a clean sweep for the Americans with Jordan Speith taking The Open championship, Brooks Koepka the US Open and last week Justin Thomas comfortably winning the US PGA Championship.
In terms of world golf and in particular next year’s Ryder Cup what can we learn from these events? Firstly, the emergence of this group of young American golfers probably marks the end of Europe’s hopes of winning the trophy for several years to come. With Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson also part of this young grouping it’s hard to see where Europe’s challenge can come from. The only bright spot, apart from Garcia winning, has been the emergence of big hitting Jon Rahm who has climbed to number 7 in the world rankings. However the fact that he has come through the American college system and plays on the US PGA tour isn’t a great reward for European progress.
Looking at who might be in Europe’s team the old guard of Westwood, Poulter and Kaymer have surely had their day unless they make a dramatic recovery in form and the same also applies to Stenson who seems to have become a different player since winning last year’s Open. McIlroy and Casey seem to have lost the ability to win and unless Justin Rose recovers some sort of putting stroke he will find it hard to justify his place in the top 15 world rankings. From last year’s team Matt Fitzpatrick, Andy Sullivan, Chris Woods and Danny Willett can at least say they have been Ryder Cup players but surely won’t get another chance. If the current world rankings are a guide then the European team would be Mcllroy, Garcia, Rahm, Stenson, Noren, Fleetwood, Rose, Molinari, Casey, Cabrera Bello, Pieters and Hatton.
It will take some application of the famous European team spirit to produce a winning formula from that team!
Team spirit can only carry you so far and the group of young Americans are such a close-knit bunch that they certainly won’t be lacking in team spirit. You only had to see the way that they waited for Thomas by the side of the 18th green last week to see that. The only way that Europe could win or tie would be if the Paris national course was produced in such a way to try to take away the Americans advantages in length and distance and superior putting. At the moment both sides in the betting are Even money which doesn’t reflect their true odds in my opinion. As the great racing journalist Richard Baerliein once wrote prior to Shergar running in the Derby “now is the time to bet like men” and forget sentiment and get on the Americans.