When eras collide. As the 43rd Ryder Cup finally gets under way on Friday morning, there’s one side looking to embark on a wonderful new chapter in these matches while the other sends its legends into the fray for one glorious last push.
More than 1,000 days on from the humbling in Paris, we have an American team without Tiger and Phil for the first time since 1993 and a side who, with the exception of the elder statesman Dustin Johnson, virtually grew up together in college and have now progressed to the biggest stage of them all.
Here on display will be the nucleus of American Ryder Cup sides for the next decade. Six of them might be rookies but Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay will surely rack up plenty more appearances.
Collin Morikawa (pictured) is amongst six American rookies in this year's Ryder Cup team
Jordan Spieth should be amongst the young Americans causing Europe lots of problems
Throw in Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Bryson DeChambeau and you have six rarely gifted golfers in their mid-to-late twenties who are going to cause Europe lots of problems over the next generation.
There’s never been a Ryder Cup like this one where the make-up of the two teams is so diametrically opposed. There are seven players on view aged 33 or older and six of them play for Europe. The oldest American is Johnson at 37 while Europe have players aged 41, 44, 45 and 48.
A victory for America, therefore, would feel like an epochal switch in the nature of these matches and the start of a worrying surge of the red tide. ‘We might have lost nine of the last 12 Ryder Cups but would anyone be shocked, when you look around at this team, if we now went on a similar run?’ said Cantlay.
Thomas, virtually the only American bright spot during the French humiliation in 2018, when he posted four points on his debut, is of a similar mindset.
‘The Ryder Cup means a lot to me,’ he said. ‘It was more nerves than I’ve ever felt and it went by quicker than any other event I’ve played in. I’ve watched the Europeans win a lot and it’s obviously not something, as an American, I’m crazy about. I’d love for us to draw a line in the sand here and start to take more control going forward. It’s very important to me.’
It is vital, therefore, that Europe’s battle-hardened greats rise to the challenge once more and prevent these hungry, young Americans from establishing any momentum.
It is going to be some task. A 12-man team with an average world ranking of under nine? That’s preposterous. Since the rankings began in 1986, this is the first time there has been a team with an average ranking in single