Whistling Straits on the shores of Lake Michigan was the rugged and spectacular host course of the 43rd Ryder Cup. Steve Stricker captained Team USA whilst Padraig Harrington brought his European team in the hope of an away win.
This raw lakeside masterpiece from Pete and Alice Dye made for a treacherous host course. The American “links” course is littered with rugged bunkers, scrubland, and pot bunkers, which made it really exciting as a spectacle as danger was never far away.
Watching the coverage, you just knew that any missed shots were going to be punished. Severe pin positions ensured that only the best golf would suffice. Like all Pete Dye courses, Whistling Straits is designed to make golfers feel uncomfortable from start to finish.
It is a beast of a golfing challenge and it was great to see the world’s best navigate it. The Ryder Cup always brings out miraculous golf shots, but it seemed that these shots were almost exclusively available to the Americans.
It must be said that the stadium tee at the first hole made for an explosive start to each match. Players who weren’t playing came out to rile up the crowd and keep the energy as high as possible. They certainly didn’t let the visiting team feel comfortable, ever, they created a fortress.
Since 1985, Europe have dominated the Ryder Cup and, after a heavy defeat for Team USA at Le Golf National, they decided a rebuilding project was needed. Captain Stricker spearheaded the project as he tried to win back the famous gold trophy in his home state.
The project was clearly successful as the home side inflicted the largest defeat in modern Ryder Cup history with a 19-9 win. This was one of the most impressive team victories ever seen in the great tournament, Team USA were clearly on a mission and each man knew his role.
They were like a juggernaut and they completely smothered Team Europe from the very start. The crowds were almost ninety-five percent American which no doubt helped drive them to this historic victory. The Americans were just simply better all week, it was a performance that will be talked about for many years and will inspire future players.
This event had the feeling of a watershed moment about it. Team USA was a very young team, Dustin Johnson was the oldest man in the home team at just 37 years old. This is a team packed with youth and ambition. In stark comparison, Europe was a team of Ryder Cup veterans with only a few younger players.
As many of the European players finished their ties they were visibly upset, partly because their team had been decimated but also because for many of them this could be their final match. Guys like Westwood, Garcia and Poulter may have pulled on the blue of Europe for the last time.
The worry here, from a European standpoint is that it is hard to see the pipeline of players that will replace these big names in Ryder Cup golf. Whilst new blood like Viktor Hovland, Shane Lowry and Bernd Weisberger are welcome, Europe needs more up and comers.
Team USA, on the other hand are brimming with players at the start of their Ryder Cup careers and they look dangerous. Guys like Champion Golfer of the Year Collin Morikawa and Scottie Scheffler are clearly going to secure a lot of points for Team USA for the next few years.
An incredibly dejected European team were quick to say that Captain Harrington deserved better than the final result. A very emotional Rory McIlroy fought through tears to say how disappointed he was in himself with his performance during the event. This was a common feature of the European interviews and you could see they were hurting from suffering such a defeat.
The Ryder Cup clearly means so much to these golfers. You can see the joy that a victory brings and the hurt that a loss brings, this is one of the reasons we love the event so much. A jubilant and mildly intoxicated American team basked in the celebrations from the crowd.
This Ryder Cup was supposed to be hosted in 2020 but was postponed because of the pandemic. There was uproar at the prospect of playing the event without crowds and the relentless energy from the mainly American galleries proved that this event can never be staged without the fans.
The next time the two old rivals face-off will be in 2023 at Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome, Italy. This gives Europe two years to rebuild and ensure they don’t face a home-defeat. It is not yet known if Padraig Harrington will stay on for another stint to get a win.
To conclude, it really does seem like the Americans have a bright future. They have a crop of incredible young talent and a squad depth that, from a European perspective, looks quite intimidating. Europe will need to go through their own reorganisation to best defend their home turf in 2023.