It was always going to be a tall order for the USA Ryder Cup team to pull off the upset victory at Gleneagles, but that doesn’t mean the sting of defeat is any lessened. The Americans fell by 5 points to the Europeans, losing 16 ½ to 11 ½ over the weekend. Jamie Donaldson closed it out with a brilliant approach shot on the 15th hole, defeating Keegan Bradley 4 and 3 and clinching the fourteen points needed for the Europeans to retain the cup.
As we look ahead to the 2016 Ryder Cup to take place at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota, there are certainly some areas that look extremely promising for the Americans and some areas that look downright poor. On the bright side, the three American rookies were a revelation for the American side, particularly Patrick Reed. Reed was the only American to go undefeated, winning both four-ball matches with fellow rookie Jordan Spieth, halving a foursome match, and winning his singles match on Sunday to go 3-0-1.
Spieth went 2-1-1 on the week, falling only in his singles match on Sunday. He joined Reed for three of the first four sessions on Friday and Saturday and the two rookies were able to get 2 ½ of the six total points the Americans held after Saturday’s foursomes. If the two can make the team in 2016, at least fans will know they are both up to the task.
And the other rookie, Jimmy Walker, fared pretty well himself, going 1-1-3 and adding 2 ½ points to America’s coffers. He teamed up with Rickie Fowler for all four of the sessions on Friday and Saturday and though they failed to win a match, they halved three of them, only falling Saturday afternoon.
It was the veterans of the tourney that did not fare particularly well. Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson, two of the highest ranked Americans in golf’s world rankings, managed to go 0-5-3 on the week with Bubba going 0-3-0. Zach Johnson and Webb Simpson were the two other Americans to fail to win a match during the entire tournament.
The group of Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson went a combined 3-3-0. They played together Friday, winning the morning session Four-ball and losing toe Foursome group in the afternoon. Captain Tom Watson then decided to sit both players on Saturday, leading to a particularly icy press conference after the tournament.
Now America must look ahead to 2016 when the Europeans will visit the States. Reed and Spieth are certainly bright spots, and you’d have to expect Fowler, Watson, and Mickelson to all make the team yet again (though Mickelson is much less of a guarantee because of his age.) Tiger Woods may even make an appearance in 2016 if he can stay healthy and return to his play from last year. But the rest of the team is a bit of a question mark and you can expect a few rookies to make the squad at Hazeltine.
The U.S. has struggled mightily in the past decade and it will be crucial for the team to collectively join together and put themselves in a much better position heading into Sunday’s singles matches.
The one thing that will be assured is 2016 Ryder Cup tickets will be in high demand.