News & Opinion

Next generation emerges to lead U.S.

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – If you were off in the mountains or decided that televised golf was not your thing during the past weekend, you missed nothing and something.

The nothing was a blowout of a talented, but out-of-form International team that left Liberty National Golf Club seeking to find a formula that might make a difference.

The something was a dominating performance by an American squad that rolled through the first three days of matches, making Sunday’s singles play almost irrelevant.

The Americans won, 19-11, for their seventh consecutive victory in this biennial series, running their overall record to 10-1-1 (scores: http://bit.ly/2xzUKfk).

Digging deeper, we learned a lot about the Americans.

One key point: the U.S. attitude comes not so much from the veteran players but from the younger guys.

Twentysomethings Rickie Fowler (3-0-1 record), Patrick Reed (3-1-1), Jordan Spieth (3-1-1), Justin Thomas (3-1-1) and even cup rookie Daniel Berger (2-1-0) provided the spark. After crushing losses in the 2012 and ’14 Ryder Cup matches to Europe, the U.S. overhauled its program with an infusion of fresh, young talent. 

U.S. captain Steve Stricker, in his awe-shucks Wisconsin way, simply let the energy of the young guys take over and got out of the way.

On Sunday, the Internationals won their first session of the week, taking the singles, 7½-4½, but the outcome essentially had been decided Saturday. The Americans rolled in the first four sessions, racking up a 14½-3½ lead in an onslaught rarely seen in cup competitions. 

The Internationals’ singles-session victory, only their third victory in the format in 12 editions of the Presidents Cup, seemed to buoy the visitors. It could be a rallying cry for the 13th Presidents Cup, in 2019 at Royal Melbourne in Australia, with Ernie Els as the likely captain.

The better team clearly won this week at Liberty National. Before the next Presidents Cup, the Americans will face a likely stronger European opponent in the 2018 Ryder Cup in France. Europe has won eight of the past 11 Ryder Cups, after decades of U.S. dominance. 

If the week in New Jersey is any indication, the Americans should be just fine, but many things can change in a year.

Alex Miceli is the founder and publisher of Morning Read. Email: alex@morningread.com; Twitter: @AlexMiceli