Transitioning Europe succumb to U.S. team unity
By Mark Lamport-Stokes
CHASKA, Minnesota (Reuters) - Neutral observers are rare when it comes to the Ryder Cup, one of the most highly charged occasions in sport, but most would agree Sunday's win by the United States gave the team competition a timely jolt.
Under considerable pressure to avoid a fourth successive loss to Europe, a much more team-oriented American lineup displayed brilliant golf over the three days at Hazeltine, with a fired-up Patrick Reed their very visible on-course heartbeat.
U.S. captain Davis Love III took a leaf or two out of triumphant 2008 skipper Paul Azinger's play book with great success as the team also benefited from a complete overhaul, from top to bottom, of their entire Ryder Cup system.
Recommendations by an 11-man task force set up after the Americans' heavy loss to Europe at Gleneagles in 2014 were implemented, and Love and his players also took advantage of a European team undergoing something of a transition.
"I see this European team similar in a way to the side that Nick Faldo captained at Valhalla (in 2008) and that team also went down," former European Tour executive director Ken Schofield told Reuters.
"That was a transitional team, and so is the team Darren (Clarke) brought to Hazeltine. As we know, we have lost three recent great Ryder Cuppers in (Ian) Poulter, (Graeme) McDowell and (Luke) Donald, and those were big boots to fill.
"We can certainly say that young Thomas Pieters has stepped up and Rafa Cabrera-Bello also stepped up, and the experience of the other boys who were amongst the six who were new to the Ryder Cup will only be good for Europe's future."
European captain Darren Clarke had six Cup debutants in his 12-man lineup – Andy Sullivan, Danny Willett, Chris Wood, Matt Fitzpatrick, Pieters and Cabrera-Bello. Continued...