On the first hole, a 364-yard par 4 known as Outward Bound, Bryson DeChambeau confidently strode and reached for a club in daring anticipation for his second shot. There was nothing unusual about that, of course, except that the club was a putter, and DeChambeau had it ready before he even left the tee.
A drive to within 41 feet of the flag. DeChambeau had been threatening it all week. On the last day with Europe’s talisman Sergio Garcia in his sights, he delivered the extraordinary. Then he sank the putt.
Gosh whiz, as they say in these regions. Garcia birdied and went down a gap. What could he have done about that? A hole-in-one on a par four? And while a single shot won’t win a Ryder Cup, DeChambeau’s monstrous first battle seemed to include what Europe has been up against all week.
Bryson DeChambeau was one of the stars of the US as they recaptured the Ryder Cup with ease
The American hit a monumental drive on the first hole and never looked back from there
There may be arguments over team selection or pairings, over the split of Garcia and Jon Rahm on Friday afternoon, over the absence of Justin Rose, but the bottom line is that the United States is just better at golf right now. Much, much better.
Better than they’ve ever been in recent memory, in fact. Brooks Koepka was right. All the talk about Europe’s famous team spirit and match play expertise was just an overcomplication, an unrealistic expectation. The winners would play the best golf; and Team America were always inclined to play the best golf.
So when DeChambeau was the first, when he played an almost patented game that went physically beyond his opponent, he seemed to speak on behalf of this young American team. Get used to it, he said. We’re not going anywhere.
You have at least ten years to do this. No wonder Rory McIlroy was in tears by the end.
The Ryder Cup is increasingly taking on the significance of the British and Irish lions in rugby for European golf. The idea that Europe may no longer be competitive in the short term must therefore be difficult to bear. Europe desperately needs the young players who have transformed the US golf team.
Because that’s the concern here. What we’ve seen in this corner of Wisconsin for the past three days is a template, this whitewash, this walk-over, is the shape of what’s to come.
Europe’s Rory McIlroy was emotional after his singles match after underperforming
Collin Morikawa took the American victory when he halved his singles on Sunday
There is a generation of young American players who know each other from college, who play as a team, who have shared memories and experiences. They’ve bonded here, they’ve looked at Team Europe and seen the reality, man by man. Jon Rahm is the highest ranked golfer in the world.
After him, however, there are ten Americans before the next European name appears, that of Viktor Hovland. The Americans are no longer intimidated by Europe’s legends, they have no scars or battle-weariness from previous encounters. America no longer fears a reversal of logic at the Ryder Cup; they have the beating of Europe, and they draw strength from each other.
Bobby Moore contributed to a book in which famous football players called the game of their lives. As captain of the only World Cup winning team in England, you might imagine Moore’s choice is an obvious one. New.
He chose the 1965 European Cup Winners Cup final, West Ham 2 TSV München 1860 0. Of the West Ham starting eleven that day, only two players were not from London, and only one – goalkeeper Jim Stannard – had not been through the youth of West Ham advanced academy.
The camaraderie in that group made it special for Moore. “It was,” he said, “like winning on the school soccer team.” And that’s how it may have felt for America too.
Jon Rahm was one of Europe’s standout players, but could do little to turn the tide
The world number 1 won both foursomes together with Sergio Garcia, but lost his singles
DeChambeau and Scottie Scheffler were contemporaries at Texas colleges; Brooks Koepka was with Daniel Berger at Florida State University; Patrick Cantlay won the 2011 Haskins Award, which honors the outstanding college golfer each year. The following year it went to Justin Thomas.
This is a team that grew up together. The college golf equivalent of the Ryder Cup is the Arnold Palmer Cup. In 2013, the American team consisted of Thomas and Berger.
Add to that the oldest player on the team, Dustin Johnson. At age 37, he became the first American to earn a maximum of five Ryder Cup points since Larry Nelson in 1979. This was a sweeping victory.
So while it would be wrong to say that Steve Stricker’s group got off easy, there was no drama of a European rearguard action. America needed 3.5 points on Sunday, meaning the minimum number of games needed for the overall win was four. They did it in five.
After McIlroy took his first point of the week against Olympic gold medalist Xander Schauffele – the last time he won a singles was in 2014 – America threw a red blanket over the rest of the competition.
Dustin Johnson finished with five points after winning all his five games over the weekend
Johnson was clear as the US took their hands on the Ryder Cup for the first time since 2016
One by one, the victorious Americans ran home until Collin Morikawa made it official. Driven by a partisan crowd, things looked nice for the home side. In the sixth, DeChambeau tripled to disappointment and good-natured booing from the crowd.
“Don’t worry,” he assured them. “I’m still going for it.” He just didn’t want to over-club by using his driver to bomb the par four green. That’s big. When DeChambeau’s strategies were successful—and they often did—he would raise both his arms in celebration, and make the first letter U for the chant that was heard across the track.
The choice of the captain who brought down Scheffler. Europe’s star man Rahm demonstrates the potential in this American team. What a Ryder Cup the 25-year-old has had.
Scheffler solved the riddle of who might have a maverick like DeChambeau, then racked up a run against an opponent Padraig Harrington had hoped would be his banker. By this time, America’s dominance was terrifying.
The winning points gained momentum. Scheffler defeated Rahm 4&3 at 2:48pm local, Cantlay 4&2 against Shane Lowry at 2:49pm, DeChambeau 3&2 over Sergio Garcia at 3:19pm, Morikawa all square with Hovland at 3:51pm. Done.
McIlroy endured a tough week in Whistling Straits, finishing with just one point
The Northern Irishman missed a day for the first time in his Ryder Cup career on Saturday
Well, not quite. “Let’s get to 20 points,” Cantlay said. “Let’s send a message.”
They came up short, but still, what a message it was still, 19 points, beating the biggest winning total of the European era. Maybe it would have been 20 had the last three games had something to play for, including from an American perspective.
Another point is that there can be no complaints from a European point of view. Drinking beer in the first place, even when the public is spurred on by it, as Thomas and Berger did on Saturday, is rude and undesirable.
And Koepka should have been disciplined, maybe even step down from singles, for berating rules officials. It was a terrible example for every junior golfer who watched. Still, there is nothing wrong with a home crowd cheering on the home side.
There was no repeat of the miracle in Medinah as American fans celebrated their team’s triumph
US vice-captain Phil Mickelson enjoyed his side’s dominant display in singles on Sunday
And why would they shut up when European putts or shots went wrong? Did Aston Villa’s end nod respectfully as Bruno Fernandes put that last-minute penalty over the bar? Would an English crowd keep quiet about a fallen Australian catch during an Ashes Test?
This was no Brookline, no War on the Shore. Garcia received a beautiful ovation on the 16th green as his game drew to a close. There continues to be admiration for Ian Poulter’s stunning singles unbeaten record.
Elsewhere, Americans cheered because their team gave them so much to cheer about. In two years, they may well be cheering in Rome too. You can imagine that they have a lot to celebrate, regardless of the location.