LONDON (Reuters) - Vice-captain Tom Lehman believes the United States “are in very good shape to win the Ryder Cup” next year for the first time since 2008.
Lehman, who led the side beaten by Ian Woosnam’s team at the K Club in Ireland in 2006, said U.S. Masters and U.S. Open champion Jordan Spieth and world number 18 Patrick Reed would be the fulcrum of the 2018 team at Hazeltine.
“I am very excited about the status of American golf, especially with a lot of the young guys on our tour right now,” the 1996 British Open champion told the GolfMagic website (www.golfmagic.com).
“I am just really impressed with the ability and poise of some of our younger players right now and I feel like we are in very good shape to win the Ryder Cup back,” added Lehman, who is competing in this week’s Senior British Open at Sunningdale.
“Guys like Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed have a golden opportunity to make a big difference in the Ryder Cup.”
Europe, captained by Darren Clarke, will be going for a fourth straight victory in the biennial team event but Lehman said the young Americans would be determined to stop them.
“I feel like some of the new build see themselves as the generation that turns the ship around and take some ownership of the situation,” the 56-year-old explained.
”I think it will be a matter of watching players progress in the next year -- such as Daniel Berger, Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka, they are really talented young guys.
“You then combine that with the likes of proven commodities like Dustin Johnson and Zach Johnson and guys like that, and then mix them with some of the veteran players like Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk.”
Lehman also said U.S. captain Davis Love III, who lost out as skipper in the ‘Miracle of Medinah’ in 2012, would have a galvanizing impact on the team.
“He is a guy that brings people together, a uniter,” added Lehman.
“He’s not a fire and brimstone guy or anything like that. He is just somebody that everyone likes.”
Writing by Tony Jimenez; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes