Europe must stop American juggernaut at Carnoustie

18 lipiec 2018 15:51

There is no doubting the fact major championship golf has a red, white and blue feel about it right now.

The past five winners of golf's big four are all from America's golden age of 20-somethings.

Go back even further and 10 of the most recent 13 major winners are from the United States.

For Europe this poses a significant problem in a home Ryder Cup year with the added pressure of trying to avenge a heavy defeat at Hazeltine two years ago.

Even more concerning from a European perspective is that there is not a great deal to suggest the tide is imminently about to turn.

There has been much talk at Carnoustie this week ahead of The Open about the bond shared by American golf's young superstars. The friendships among the likes of Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler are well documented.

Thomas this week spoke about how he and his friends want to "beat each other's brains in", but that competitive rivalry is a motivator rather than an obstacle.

It marks a seismic shift from the reports of tension and dislike that have plagued previous US teams, who had all the talent but none of the team spirit so essential to winning the Ryder Cup, reaching a crescendo with Phil Mickelson's very public and very awkward condemning of the legendary Tom Watson's leadership after the 2014 loss at Gleneagles.

And there is an ominous confidence from within that a period of dominance is being established, emphasised by Masters champion Patrick Reed drawing the battle lines when asked what another American major win would mean.

"If we can continue that run on winning the big tournaments and stuff and keeping them in the States, it's going to help our psyche and it's also going to hopefully get in the heads of the Europeans a little bit that, hey, we're all playing pretty well, and we're coming," he said ahead of The Open this week.

It is a confidence that is wholly justified, particularly given the age of many of the likely team at Le Golf National in two months' time.

Spieth is 24, Thomas 25, Reed 27, U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka 28, and Rickie Fowler 29.

From a European perspective there remains a steely determination amid a recognition that American golf is enjoying a golden period and an inner belief that the tide can be stemmed.

"America, there's no doubt about it, and there's no other way to put it, than they have an exceptional bunch of players at the moment," Tommy Fleetwood said.

"I mean, it just happens so that it has been a run of American golfers that have won majors, but at the same time, they've generally been the best players in the world at the time that they've won them.

"It will be nice to break that run. I know we're all trying to do it. Europe and the rest of the world, there's a lot of good players, but there's a lot of good American players. It's just one of them funny runs that's on at the moment."

It was a sentiment shared by Justin Rose, who added: "The top end of American golf right now is incredibly strong. There's a bit of a camaraderie amongst all of them.

"I think Tommy [Fleetwood] showed how close the Europeans are to challenging that [when he finished runner-up at the U.S. Open]. 

"It's not like we're a mile behind. It's just they're on a great run right now, and there's no reason why a European player shouldn't come through this week."

Rory McIlroy waded in with a familiar European tone on Wednesday.

"Obviously, with the Americans dominating the individual tournaments, that sort of gives them confidence going into the Ryder Cup," he said.

"[But] there could be two American players could win the next two majors, and Europe could win the Ryder Cup.

"It's going to be tough. It's going to be tough to beat them this week. It's going to be tough to beat them in France. And that's just the way it is.

"Europeans had their nice little run a few years ago, and I just think these things work in cycles."

The message is clear. The Europeans know they have a fight on their hands and there is no chance of a meek surrender.

But if Europe fail to halt this Stateside juggernaut, starting with The Open at Carnoustie this week, the Ryder Cup could remain in American hands for the foreseeable future.

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23 styczeń 2019


22 styczeń 2019