The USA were favourites to win the 43rd Ryder Cup before a ball was even struck with many describing the team as the most impressive the Americans had ever assembled for the biennial competition.
Their team included eight of the world’s top ten ranked players who also had the added advantage of being backed by their always vociferous, often maligned home crowd.
Even still, few would have predicted the competition ending in a record margin of defeat which saw Europe handed their heaviest loss since the competition extended to include the continental players in 1979.
The most concerning aspect of the defeat from a European point of view isn’t the score though, it’s the fact that this USA team wasn’t built around experienced professionals, or even players who have reached their “peak” for that matter, but rather on a number of highly talented young stars who still have long and likely successful careers ahead of them.
Team Europe captain Pádraig Harrington opted for Ryder Cup veterans to combat America’s hot shots, with just three Ryder Cup rookies in his 12 man team.
Viktor Hovland (24) made his debut and will likely be a regular fixture of Ryder Cups for a while yet but fellow European rookies Shane Lowry (34) and Bernd Wiesberger (35) are seasoned professionals at the height of their careers at this stage and could not be described as the long term “future” of European golf.
Compare that to American rookies like Open champion Collin Morikawa (24), Xander Schauffele (27) and Scottie Scheffler (25) who are already top quality players yet to reach their full potential and the future of the Ryder Cup looks set to be red for years to come.
Scheffler in particular entered the competition as one of the supposed weaker links in the USA team and would prove all the doubters wrong with a singles win over world number one Jon Rahm on the final day of play.
Perhaps the answer is for Europe to fight fire with fire and turn to their own emerging talents in bid to match the unbridled potential of their American counterparts.
There’s plenty of them out there with the likes of Rasmus Hojgaard, Antoine Rozner, Bob MacIntyre, Sam Horsfield and John Catlin to name just a few.
Out of that list, MacIntyre was the players probably closest to selection for the 2021 Ryder Cup after impressing over the last year or so and was touted by many as a worthy pick before missing out.
It can’t be denied though, those players are not yet close as a collective to the likes of Morikawa, Schauffele and Scheffler.
It then falls on the powers that be to give these European prospects even more opportunities than already exist to turn them in to real contenders at future Ryder Cups.
One such idea, suggested by a few, could be the return of the Seve Trophy after an eight year hiatus.
The competition was contested eight times between 2000 and 2013 and held on alternating years to the Ryder Cup.
It followed the same format as its more prestigious counterpart and pitted golfers from Great Britain & Ireland against continental European players.
In affect, it was an audition for the Ryder Cup and provided a fantastic opportunity for players on the periphery of selection to show their prowess in team competition.
That kind of experience could be invaluable for Europe’s next crop of Ryder Cup stars but, in the end, golf remains a game of individual skill and it’s up to the next generation to keep pushing for individual success.
The Ryder Cup is a special tournament that most golfers dream of taking part in and, after this year’s humiliating failure, the door has creaked open for the next generation - it’s up to them to now kick it down.
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