Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Hard road ahead for Europe at Ryder Cup

Europe were crushed by the United States in the 2021 Ryder Cup, suffering a record-breaking defeat at the hands of their rivals at Whistling Straits. Padraig Harrington’s team failed to compete with the States, who dominated proceedings from the off to regain the Ryder Cup with ease.

Dustin Johnson was the standout for the States, winning all five of his matches. Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Collin Morikawa, Bryson DeChambeau, Daniel Berger, Scottie Scheffler and Justin Thomas were equally effective in Wisconsin, putting the Europeans to the sword. The States have a fine blend of talent that has dominated the PGA Tour and the Ryder Cup over the last two years.

In the latest golf betting odds, the USA are backed at ½ to regain the Ryder Cup in Italy in 2023. With the talent at their disposal that are the leading contenders in the golf tips to sweep up the majors in 2022 and beyond, it is hard to look past them winning in Europe for the first time in the 21st century. The next European captain has a major problem on his hands, dealing with the quality of the United States’ line-up and the lack of talent emerging in Europe to counter them.

At the peak of its powers between 2002 and 2006, Europe won three successive Ryder Cups. They had a good blend of talent among the older players in the ranks and younger talent such as Ian Poulter, Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood. Those players were the foundations of further success stories in another three-peat in 2010, 2012 and 2014. There was a setback in 2016 when the States hit back hard, but Europe were on their mettle in 2018 through the brilliance of Francesco Molinari among others to regain the Ryder Cup in Paris.

The 2021 Ryder Cup highlighted the problem that future European captains are facing as the old guard of Westwood, Poulter and Casey faltered at Whistling Straits. Garcia may have one Ryder Cup left in him, while others who missed the tournament such as Justin Rose and Molinari could be drafted back into the team. However, the young talent is failing to thrive under pressure.

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The case of Matthew Fitzpatrick is evidence of that fact. Fitzpatrick has played in two Ryder Cups, albeit both in the United States, but has failed to win a single point or half point in his five matches. He displayed his quality to bounce back to win the Andalucia Masters, but Harrington would have been scratching his head wondering where that form was in the States. After a brilliant Ryder Cup debut in 2018 when he partnered Molinari, Tommy Fleetwood went off the boil in 2021, winning only one of his three matches. In matches without Molinari, Fleetwood’s record falls to 1-4.

Tyrrell Hatton appeared to be a golfer on the rise, winning the 2020 Arnold Palmer Invitational to secure his first PGA Tour crown. However, he endured a miserable end to 2021 by missing the cut at the US Open and The Open before mustering 1.5 points from his four games at the Ryder Cup.

Jon Rahm will carry the burden moving forward as the superstar of the European team. He was near flawless at Whistling Straits until he cracked on the final day against Scheffler to lose his singles match. Rory McIlroy too has been mediocre at Ryder Cups with 12-12-4 overall record. Unlike the past generations, it is the States that are building the platform for future success rather than the Europeans. It could be a tough road ahead for European golf in the Ryder Cup.

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