It was a magnificent weekend if you were a golf fan or even if you aren’t and were smart enough to watch a least of portion of the Ryder Cup. It wasn’t drama-soaked if that’s your appeal but it was dominance-drenched and there is beauty in brilliance. The venue was breath-taking, the camaraderie was palpable and the emotion raw and real.
Simply put the Ryder Cup is one of the best events going. A biannual three-day country vs. continent competition that asks its participants to change their way of thinking and do it together and not alone. Put me aside and work on us. So many angles and stories. Magnified peaks and valleys. A must watch even for the casual fan on a gorgeous fall weekend where the outside demanded your presence.
The USA stomped on Europe, this time around with a bunch of brash, young, immensely talented and hungry golfers. The 19-9 final score was record-setting in its margin of victory. Europe has humbled the USA in recent times, winning seven of the last nine matches. Signs of change were had to miss this time around.
I spent much of my weekend in front of the tube, although a did mix in a trip to the Big-E on Saturday. But large of chunks of couch time were registered including all of Sunday’s final single matches. It is an awesome atmosphere. So here are 10 takeaways from this year’s Ryder Cup.
- The U.S. Win – It is hard not to believe that this is a start of a great run for America. This was a changing of the guard with six newcomers to the team and the average age a youthful 29. Dustin Johnson is the oldest player on the team at 37. So with eight players under the age of 30 (Bryson DeChambeau, Collin Morikawa, Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffle, Jordan Spieth, Scottie Scheffler, Daniel Berger) the future has a glow to it. This breed has no fear and as Rory McIlroy said they seem to buy into the team concept better than teams of the past. This wasn’t a win, the was a beat down and it is hard to believe it is one-time thing. The ingredients are there for a prosperous era.
- Whistling Staits. – Fair in its challenge, beautiful in its presentation. With Lake Michigan an alluring presence and backdrop on so many holes, there is a post card quality. It makes you want to play to the course (I don’t have enough balls for that endeavor). Actually, I would love it. The players were challenged while at the same time dropped in a load of birdies. Tons of sand, diabolical traps, lovely raw nature. Hey, this was a venue worth savoring.
- Koepka – DeChambeau hug – These guys have been going at it for a while, adding a little spice to a sport that usually likes nice. Nobody is exactly sure how it started but when the crowd started chanting “Brooksie” at DeChambeau a while back and he started asking that fans be removed for the taunt, it got ramped up. Koepka released a video offering beer in a video post to the fans who were ejected. Victory is a great medicine. At the victory team interview with the press, the twosome added another memorable moment with a hug in front of the stage. It just seemed to fit and hopefully all is forgiven whatever it was.
- European Class – Losing in this competition guts you. The post-match press conference can be ercruciating. Nobody wants to be there. But again, Europe stood tall. Repeatedly European captain Paddy Harrington talked about how well the USA team played Ian Poulter said the USA was better team. Harrington said he was happy for USA captain Steve Stricker. Harrington was elegant in complimenting his team and he couldn’t be prouder of the effort and commitment. The sentiment was echoed by Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter, two stalwarts of the team. Standard stuff? Hardly. Tears are real, sentiment was genuine. Classy stuff.
- Lee Westwood – At 48, Westwood admitted this was probably his last Ryder Cup appearance as a player. He has been a stalwart, a memorable presence over the years. He had his son as caddy on Sunday and won his final match over Harris English. He held back tears at the end. It was a fitting finish for a good guy.
- Xander Schauffle’s cigar – Schauffle had a stogey about the size of Texas in post-match press conference and nearly gassed Patrick Cantlay who was sitting next to him and some of the other players. Part of the giddy irreverence of victory. It looked like he wasn’t exactly an expert on how to work it but at that point who really cares. Kind of funny though.
- Shane Lowry – Nobody seemed happier to be part of the Ryder Cup than the long-time veteran making his first appearance on the grandest stage. He called it the best week of his life and this is a guy who has won the British Open. He was almost giddy after teaming up to win his match in Saturday afternoon’s play. He oozed appreciation about being part of the team. Well-deserved, well-done.
- Jordan Spieth’s shot – There were tons of great shots in three days with the best in the world playing. But the most memorable was Spieth’s unfathomable shot on No. 17 in a match he and Justin Thomas lost. With his shot lodged in the high stuff on a vertical slope about 10 feet high off he green Spieth had to hack it directly almost straight in the air and nearly stumbled his way into Lake Michigan on the follow-through. The ball landed about five feet from the cup and Spieth stayed dry. Hey, these guys are ridiculously good.
- Steve Stricker touch – The soft-spoken captain did everything right. Set the right tone with the players never giving them too much, letting them do their thing while building up a wonderful team chemistry. He made six captain’s pick – Tony Finau, Xander Schauffle, Jordan Spieth, Harris English, Scott Scheffler and Daniel Berger. Not one disappointed and Scheffler was awesome in taking down world’s No. 1 John Rahm. The right guy with the right touch and he got to do it in his home state of Wisconsin.
- Didn’t have to watch the Giants or Red Sox – The Giants flat out are terrible. Give me Ansonia. The Red Sox got swept by the Yankees at home in a wild card race, two losses coming with leads in the eighth inning. Thank-you Ryder Cup for making my day.