KOHLER, Wisconsin (Reuters) – The U.S. Ryder Cup rookies that helped deliver a dominant win over Europe on Sunday not only showed that experience may be overrated but also sent a message that the Americans are well-positioned for a sustained run of success in the team event.
Having six Ryder Cup debutants on a 12-man team – the most on an American squad since 2008 – raised some questions about how they would handle the pressure-packed environment but each came through and showed their mettle.
Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Collin Morikawa, Scottie Scheffler, Daniel Berger and Harris English went a combined 14-4-3 at Whistling Straits where they also played a key role in Sunday’s singles session.
“This is going to be the next era of Ryder Cup teams for the U.S. side,” said Cantlay, who wrapped up his 3-0-1 week with a 4&2 win over Shane Lowry in the day’s second match.
“The young guys on this team get along really well. Everyone has that killer instinct and we are going to bring that to future Cups.”
Europe, a close-knit and battle-tested group, were the dominant Ryder Cup team over the last 26 years but the tide could be changing if the past three days are any indication.
In the first Ryder Cup since 1993 without Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson on the U.S. playing roster, the fearless rookies showed they were unfazed by the task at hand.
U.S. captain Steve Stricker sent four rookies out in the first five singles matches and the move paid off as three of them returned points, including Morikawa who halved his match with Viktor Hovland to clinch the Ryder Cup.
Morikawa dealt the final blow to a European team whose hopes were hanging by a thread when he struck a stunning tee shot to three feet at the par-three 17th hole to go 1UP.
“It means so much,” said Morikawa, who went 4-0 in his Ryder Cup debut. “To clinch this and bring the Cup back to home soil it feels so good.”
Schauffele fell to McIlroy in the day’s first singles match for his only loss on the week but went an impressive 3-1 in his first Ryder Cup.
Scheffler (2-0-1) put the first U.S. point on the board with a 4&3 win over world number one Jon Rahm. In the later matches, with the Ryder Cup already decided, English (1-2) lost on the final hole to Lee Westwood and Berger (2-1) earned a 1UP win over Matthew Fitzpatrick.
“This is a new era for USA golf,” said Stricker. “They are young. They come with a lot of passion, a lot of energy, a lot of game. They are just so good.”
(Reporting by Steve Keating; Writing by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Stephen Coates)