The Ryder Cup ended in a defeat for the American team, but the future looks hopeful for the USA when looking at the performances of the rookies. Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed stood out in particular because of their point tallies over Friday and Saturday. The duo combined for 2.5 points in three matches over the first two days of the event compared to just 3.5 points for the other 10 members of the team. The young rookies good play in the singles round continued. Spieth, the youngest member of the team at 21, went out first for the American’s and got to an early lead against Graeme Mcdowell, but the Northern Irishman was able to fight back and earn a full point for the Europeans. “G Mac,” as he is known to European fans, went 3-0-0 at Gleneagles, solidifying himself as a leader in the European camp. Therefore it was not surprising that Spieth lost his first ever Ryder Cup singles match. Reed, 24, was matched against the Swede, Henrik Stenson, and earned the Americans their first point on Sunday. It was an honor that American captain Tom Watson picked them as the first two to play singles on Sunday, and showed how they were the emotional and energetic leaders of the American team.
The other debutante for the Americans was the 35-year-old Jimmy Walker. He played in five matches and recorded a 1-1-3 record, earning his team 2.5 points in the event. Even though he is more than ten years older than the other Ryder Cup rookies, he still gives a fresh perspective to the USA team because he had yet to deal with the continuous losing and bureaucratic nonsense that has surrounded the American contingent in the past.
Europe – 16.5 – USA – 11.5. That was the final score for the 40th Ryder Cup played at the Jack Nickolas designed course of Gleneagles in Scotland. It was a thorough defeat for the American team, which was hoping to end its losing streak and win for the first time on European soil since 1993. That year was also the last time Tom Watson was captaining the American team. But that did not happen, and Europe won its 8th Ryder Cup trophy in the last 10 events and third in a row overall.
The three captains picks, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Hunter Mahan, all performed well under par. Bradley proclaimed on Twitter that they were the “Redeem Team” because they all had experienced defeat in the previous two events and wanted to turn things around for the Americans. Mahan did the best out of the three, earning a 1-2-1 record and gaining 1.5 points for the cause. Bradley went 1-2-0 and Simpson 0-1-1, earning the USA a point and half a point respectively. It may be time to hand the mantle over to a new generation of American talent.
The rookies of the Ryder Cup, Spieth, Reed, Walker, and the young Rickie Fowler could be that future generation of hopeful players for the USA. Walker is older, but since it took him so long to get to the top level, he plays with a chip on his shoulder that will give him the fire to continue. Fowler is a consistent player who just cannot seem to break through for the big win. At Gleneagles, it was no different, and sadly he now has the unfortunate statistic of being the only player with eight or more matches played at the Ryder Cup without recording a victory. He has three losses and five halves. That core of four will need to play well in the ensuing two years in order to bring along a new generation of players and phase out some of the older golfers who just have not cut it against European competition.
Other young Americans who could be making appearances in two years time are Billy Horschel, Harris English, Russel Henley, Peter Uihlein, Brooks Koepka, John Huh and Luke Guthrie. Horschel won the Fed-Ex Cup this year and if the captain’s picks were a few weeks later would have almost surely been one of Watson’s choices. The rest are all under 30 years old and could be really establishing themselves on the PGA and European tours in order make the top nine guaranteed places or to become one of the three captains picks for the next matches on American soil in 2016. With Walker, Reed, Spieth, and Fowler all likely to make the Ryder Cup team again, it will be up to a new batch of rookies to help continue providing energy and enthusiasm to the American team in order to ensure a hopeful and successful future in the prestigious event.
Commentary by B. Taylor Rash