Ryder Cup: Commentator says Rory McIlroy has been ‘scapegoat’
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After last September’s drubbing in Wisconsin, European golf fans will no doubt have put any thought of the Ryder Cup to the back of their minds. Six months on and the wounds of the Whistling Straits have barely healed, however Team Europe are back in the limelight once again with the 2023 event in mind.
The Ryder Cup is firmly back on golf fans’ minds after it was announced that one of Europe’s greatest modern golfers in Henrik Stenson was confirmed as the team’s new captain for next year’s event on home soil in Rome. The 2016 Open champion will no doubt prove a popular pick, having boasted a pretty impressive Ryder Cup playing career, as well as having vice-captaincy experience.
However, with the scintillating Team USA talent going nowhere, the job at hand is a big one. Whilst it may appear a daunting task for Stenson, the Swede will no doubt know that if he was to pull off victory in Italy he could well be regarded as his continent’s greatest leader.
The 2021 event was without question the darkest week in Team Europe’s Ryder Cup history. Yes, this young and firing American team were tipped for greatness, however the sheer magnitude of the defeat at Whistling Straits made the bitter pill even harder to swallow.
The 19-9 loss was the heaviest defeat in the tournament’s modern history, and with America’s bright young squad only set to get better, the future has been looking bleak for the blue and gold of Europe. This especially seemed the case after it looked as if the European team were heading the opposite way.
There is no doubt that the past two or three decades has seen the continent provide some of its greatest ever players. However Whistling Straits showed that the time of the likes of Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood could well be up. One man who was a shining light as ever in Europe’s nightmare was Spaniard Sergio Garcia.
Time after time Garcia has turned into a different beast when wearing blue and gold, and for this reason proudly sits as the competition’s highest ever points scorer. Like Westwood and Poulter though, the Spaniard is no doubt closer to the end of his Ryder Cup career than the start.
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Undoubtedly the Europeans do still have both experience and talent. Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood are prime examples of this, however Whistling Straits showed that this clearly wasn’t enough to compete. All of these factors continue to stack Stenson and Europe’s chances further and further back, however for the Swede this could be a recipe for the Ryder Cup’s greatest ever success.
Stenson is no doubt a golfer who knows how to win. One Open Championship, 11 European Tour wins six PGA Tour titles, and three Ryder Cup victories more than back that up. And despite his role in Rome being off the golf course, you can bet that that winning mentality will be at the forefront of his plan come September 2023.
Defying the odds is in Europe’s nature. Time and time again they have been written off and fought back to create some of the biggest moments in Ryder Cup history. Medinah in 2012 is of course a glaring example for this. Down and out three sessions in, the result all but looked secured for Team USA, before the Euros rallied back to an historic win.
Now with the gulf in talent between the two sides most probably even bigger than it was back then – victory in 2023 could well top the Miracle at Medinah 10 years ago. And, if they were to do the unthinkable and regain the famous trophy on home soil, it would only be right that captain Stenson would go down as his team’s greatest ever leader.
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