The United States won the 43rd Ryder Cup in record-shattering fashion, obliterating Europe 19-9 at Whistling Straits Golf Course in Kohler, Wis.
Dustin Johnson, the oldest member of the U.S. team, finished the week 5-0-0, becoming only the fifth player in the last 55 years to do so, and 24-year-old wunderkind Collin Morikawa sank the cup clinching putt.
It was the worst drubbing in the Ryder Cup since the modern era began in 1979 with the introduction of Team Europe. The United States didn’t lose a single session of the five, and their 8-4 romp in singles was a rousing exclamation point that delighted the 40,000 assembled golf fans that made the trek to the shores of Lake Michgan on a blustery September Sunday.
The USA won with a devastating blend of youth, power and chemistry, and with more than a little help from an overwhelming advantage in support from the masses, as Covid restrictions prevented most European fans from attending. After racing out to an 11-5 lead – a hole from which no trailing team has ever recovered in the modern era - the Americans set their sights on the scoring record. According to more than a few oblique references during the team’s beer-fueled comedy routine of a post-tournament press conference, word had gotten to the team vice captains that the record was within reach, who in turn relayed it to the players.
“We knew about it,” said Jordan Spieth curtly, for the moment cutting short Dustin Johnson’s stand-up act that, were he to take it on the road, might earn him a stint in a Las Vegas lounge. (One person who will not buy a ticket is England’s Paul Casey, who was on the losing end of all five of Johnson’s victories.)
It was a laugher on the course as well. The first pairing teed off at 12:05 p.m. Eastern time and by 1:12 p.m., with just seven matches in progress, the USA had 14.5 projected points on the scoreboard. Europe never reversed that. By 3:45 p.m., the USA was winning in a whopping nine singles matches, and the race for various scoring records was on. The 19 points scored and 10-point margin of victory are modern era records, though the United States defeated Great Britain and Ireland 21-11 at Laurel Valley Country Club in Pennsylvania in 1975.
For once, paper rankings were actually were a harbinger of what transpired on the go0lf course. The USA entered the tournament with 11 of the top 12 ranked players, and this time – finalmente, as we say in Italian, “at long last” – this time they all played well at the same time. And most importantly, they all played well in the clutch.
That’s a secret of a team golf event contested in a multi-day Ryder Cup-esque format: You’re not going to play well the whole time. You just have to play well in the clutch.
Best of all, even the rookies got into the act. Actually, “got into the act” is selling them short, as they were right behind DJ, in the vanguard, going a shocking 11-2-2 in the four team sessions, powering the USA to the comfortable lead they enjoyed during their coronation on Sunday. Scottie Scheffler, who was 3-0 through his first three matches, was particularly efficient, dismembering world No. 1 and reigning U.S. Open champion Jon Rahm of Spain, 4 and 3. Scheffler won the first four holes of the match and ended whatever faint hope Europe had, cruising to an early victory and leading a rally that percolating throughout the scoreboard.
Rahm was undefeated at this Ryder Cup before getting fileted by Scheffler.
“Scottie beating their number one player? That motivated us all,” gushed an ebullient Johnson. “We were all watching that all day long.”
And, of course, putting told the tale at the end of the day. While guided missile drives from Bryson DeChambeau stole much of the show (he drove the first green en route to an opening eagle and a win over Sergio Garcia), it was clutch putting that proved to be the difference.
“You have to make the putts at the right time and get some momentum, and we just couldn’t do it,” lamented Norway’s Viktor Hovland, one of Europe’s bright spots and a prized rookie.
“We made a lot more putts than they did,” agreed USA’s Jordan Speith. “And there were a lot more roars.”
The two teams meet again in 2023 at Marco Simone golf and Country Club in Rome; it will be the first time the Ryder Cup has ever been contested in Italy.
A few notes
Sergio Garcia is now the all-time leader in overall wins (24), overal points (27.5) and foursomes wins (12).
The tandem of Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas have teamed up for four Ryder Cup victories in their career (Foursomes + Four-Ball). The only American tandem with more wins is the team of Arnold Palmer and Gardner Dickinson (5).