It’s time to start worrying about McIlroy… Sportsmail sifts through the Ryder Cup debris – Padraig Harrington was an unlucky captain and Europe won’t win without a fit-and-firing Rory
- Europe suffered a record defeat of 19-9 in the 43rd edition of the Ryder Cup
- The United States team stormed to victory at Whistling Straits Wisconsin
- Sportsmail goes through the painful questions in the aftermath of the loss
Where on earth do Europe go from here?
They were always going to be up against it in the 43rd Ryder Cup but a 10-point humiliation?
Let’s go through the painful questions in the aftermath of the biggest loss in Ryder Cup history and see if we can offer up a prayer for a revival come the next match in Rome in 2023.
Sportsmail goes through the painful questions in the aftermath of the biggest loss in Ryder Cup history
It is in the nature of these matches that one skipper proves to be Captain Fantastic and the loser a good deal less than that but, in this instance, it’s difficult to find much wrong with the Irishman’s stewardship.
When you are at the helm of a ship that’s looking dated and the other captain has a sleek ocean liner, you are always going to be left in his wake.
Yes, it was a mystery why Tommy Fleetwood, who has never lost a foursomes match, didn’t get the chance to put that record to the test. And selecting Justin Rose for a wildcard might have plugged one or two gaps.
The truth of the matter though, in meeting perhaps the strongest American team of all time with his second-best player completely out of sorts, is that the Dubliner proved an unlucky captain rather than a bad one.
Team Europe captain Padraig Harrington was an unlucky captain rather than a bad one
2. ANY WAY BACK FOR RORY McILROY?
It is now officially time to worry about the talismanic Northern Irishman. All the tentative signs of recovery over the summer were blown away by a complete inability to perform over the first two days.
McIlroy deserves kudos for fronting up to lead the team off in the singles and deliver a point, but this was a bit like those recoveries he makes over the last couple of rounds in majors, when the damage has already been done.
The enormous sense of deflation he was feeling was obvious when the tears came. He cares all right. All Europe will be keeping fingers and everything else crossed that he can find a solution, for there are no Ryder Cup victories in the near future without a fit and firing Rory.
It is now officially time to worry about the talismanic Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy
3. DON’T THE HOME SIDE ALWAYS WIN?
Six of the last eight Ryder Cups have produced fairly lop-sided home victories, if not usually on the scale of this one.
And you can be sure Europe will set up the course in Italy to spike the American artillery. The fairways will be narrow, the rough thick and the greens as slow as molasses to counter all those US players who hole from everywhere on slick putting surfaces.
The crowd factor is probably worth another couple of points, so we might theoretically have halved the deficit by this stage.
Trouble is, it will be 30 years, would you believe, since the last American away victory by the time we get to Rome. Do you think these young and hungry world beaters might be keen to be the team who ends that drought?
4. DO EUROPE NEED TO CHANGE THE QUALIFYING SYSTEM?
Do you really have to get me started on this? No hindsight here, folks — we trashed it before the match as being unfit for purpose. Let’s just underline the lunacy. For all the faults of the FedEx Cup, the trio of events in the US leading up to the Ryder Cup proved fertile breeding grounds for identifying the Americans in form. Tony Finau won one. Patrick Cantlay won two. Harris English played well. Xander Schauffele played well. Dustin Johnson played well in the last one. See a pattern here?
Meanwhile, in Europe, Bernd Wiesberger finished 20th in the last counting event at Wentworth and went above Shane Lowry in the list, who finished 17th. No, don’t adjust your reading specs, you haven’t read that wrong.
No one had a clue what was happening and no one, as a result, played well. Just what you need for confidence before taking on the rampant Americans.
Depressingly, all the signs are that the incomprehensible system will only be tweaked for the next match, when it needs throwing out and recognising that the golfing world has changed.
Eight players off the world rankings and four picks sounds about right to me.
5. SHOULD EUROPE CHANGE THE GUARD LIKE THE YANKS?
Yes, they should. If this Ryder Cup showed us anything, with all its modern colour and noise, it is that it’s a young man’s game these days. Remember, America overlooked 51-year-old Phil Mickelson and he is a current major champion.
So, who have Europe got? There are four exciting young players, in particular, to keep an eye on: the dazzling Hojgaard twins, Rasmus and Nicolai, from Denmark, the spiky Italian Guido Migliozzi and Bob MacIntyre from Scotland.
All four appear to have that fearlessness and personality to take on the Americans so let’s hope they continue to progress over the next couple of seasons, and others come through.
The best young player who wasn’t at the Ryder Cup, though, is Will Zalatoris — and he is American.
Nicolai Hojgaard (right) and his twin Rasmus (left) are two future players for Team Europe
6. TIME TO BRING BACK THE SEVE TROPHY?
It was a grievous act of self-harm that it ever ended. Board members of the European Tour keep telling us they’ve got loads of dosh, so let’s see it or something similar restored to the calendar.
A match played in non-Ryder Cup years between Britain and Ireland v Europe, it produced many partnerships, lots of camaraderie and at least one great captain in Paul McGinley. Look at the Presidents Cup equivalent, where America nurtured their team spirit and a wonderful pairing in Schauffele and Cantlay.
7. REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL?
Speaking to a few influential people in the aftermath, I fervently hope they are right and I’m wrong. They were going on about Europe’s rosy future but, dare I say, it all sounded a bit complacent to me. Following all the glory years, this looks a hard decade ahead.
On the plus side, Europe have Jon Rahm, and he is the best player on either side by a distance. They have Viktor Hovland, still only 24. They have the remarkable Sergio Garcia, who perhaps has one more match in him, and they probably have Shane Lowry, whose rollercoaster years are hopefully now a thing of the past. Maybe Tyrrell Hatton as well.
The brutal truth is, though, if you were picking a composite of the two teams at least nine of them would be American — and they will all be back for Rome.
Europe have Jon Rahm (above) and he is the best player on either side by a distance
8. WAS IT AMERICA’S BEST SIDE OF ALL TIME?
Since the Europeans joined the party in 1979, the one that has always stood out is the 1981 team who came to Walton Heath and battered their opponents with the same ruthlessness we saw last week. There were 11 major champions in that line-up — Bruce Lietzke was the exception and even he won 13 times on the PGA Tour — as against six in this team. So that is the benchmark.
I think this one will go on to have at least eight major winners — Schauffele and Cantlay appear certain additions — while you wouldn’t rule out any of the others from winning one. It stands comparison, therefore, let’s say that.
This was one of America’s greatest teams – and Xander Schauffele looks a future Major winner
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