Early Ryder Cup warning: Be afraid, Europe, be very afraid

Team Europe members at the 2016 Ryder Cup

With another US victory in the Presidents Cup, the Ryder Cup is officially on the clock. September 28, Day One of the competition next year, can’t come soon enough. But in the meantime, Team Europe’s captain Thomas Bjorn should be afraid. He should be very afraid. Just ask International Team captain Nick Price.

“We’ve just come up against a juggernaut of an American team that has put not a foot wrong,” he said.

If the Presidents Cup were a fight, they would’ve stopped it. Only some late-round heroics by Si Woo Kim and Anirban Lahiri prevented the Americans from clinching the competition before yesterday’s 12 singles matches, and setting up a slow death march on the final day.

A lot can happen in 12 months and good form can be a fragile thing — just ask 2015 Masters champ Danny Willett — but the US squad is young, talented and hungry to become the first American side to win the Ryder Cup on foreign shores since 1993. Back then, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, and Daniel Berger were just infants.

Captain Bjorn should be shaking in his golf spikes not so much because of the US annihilation of The Internationals, but rather of the successful pairing of several future Ryder Cup pairings.

Get used to seeing a lot of Rickie Fowler and FedEx Cup champion Justin Thomas, who teamed to go 2-0-1 this week. On Thursday, batting leadoff, the American duo destroyed Hideki Matsuyama and Charl Schwartzel, 6&4 in foursomes. On Friday, Fowler-Thomas took down the most successful pair in the history of the competition, the previously unbeaten team of South Africans Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen, 3&2, in four-ball.

“We ran into a brick wall today with those two,” Grace said. “Every time we tried to show them something, they threw something better back.”

On Saturday, the South African duo halved the rematch in foursomes, but by then US Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk, who served as an assistant captain this week at Liberty National, had started filling out his dance card for Le Golf National.

“Wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else other than my dude right here,” Thomas said of Fowler.

So what is the magic between the Baker Bay Boys, who have bonded over their now annual spring break trip to the Bahamas?

“We’re both very comfortable around each other,” Fowler said. “We know our limits in a way. I can push and say stuff to him that I know may not be the best of things to other people.”

Workout buddies Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson, who prepared for their matches with Soul Cycle workouts in Lower Manhattan, have the makings of being a tandem capable of using their power off the tee and chemistry around the greens to defeat opponents.

And, of course, the dynamic duo of Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed continue to make beautiful music. They are now a combined 7-2-3 in Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup.

Rest assured, Captain Furyk has taken notice. Asked about what he gained from serving as an assistant this week, Furyk said he observed pairings among other things.

“It’s very useful,” he said of his role. “I don’t want to use the word advantage, but it’s nice to have some symmetry from year to year.”

In short, the American side has come a long way from the disaster at Gleneagles in 2014 that led to a task force and paid quick dividends in a rousing victory at Hazeltine.

It is clear the USA will head to France with a boost of confidence that they have several formidable pairings for Paris and Ryder Cups to come. Be afraid. Be very afraid.


Lifestyle

Liz O’Brien talks to Niall Breslin about his admiration for frontline staff, bereavement in lockdown, his new podcast, and why it's so important for us all just to slow down.Niall Breslin talks about losing his uncle to coronavirus

Podcasts are often seen as a male domain — see the joke, 'What do you call two white men talking? A podcast'.Podcast corner: Three new podcasts from Irish women that you should listen to

Esther McCarthy previews some of the Fleadh’s Irish and international offerings.How to attend the Galway Film Fleadh from the comfort of your own couch

Whether you’re on staycation or risking a trip away, Marjorie Brennan offers suggestions on novels for a wide variety of tastesThe best fiction books for the beach and beyond this summer

More From The Irish Examiner