I can understand why Nick Faldo wore those big sunglasses on Sunday -- the future does look bright for Team USA.
key to the Americans' first Ryder Cup win since 1999 was the new guys. This was a
different U.S. Team. Missing in action were longtime American Ryder Cup players like Davis Love
III, Fred Couples, Brad Faxon, Scott Verplank and
David Toms -- the old-guard guys, who for whatever reason couldn't get in done
in previous Cups. The U.S. won this weekend at Valhalla because of
the guys with little or no Ryder Cup experience: Hunter Mahan, Boo Weekley, Kenny Perry and, especially, Anthony Kim and J.B. Holmes.
Kim and Holmes are the best examples of the sea change that's happened on
the American side. They are proven winners who played together as amateurs on the
winning U.S. side in the 2005 Walker Cup. We watched a true changing of
the guard, and now we've got a bunch of guys who can handle the
pressure of this event. By contrast, the U.S. players on this team who lived through the bad old days were average at best. Phil Mickelson couldn't even beat Justin Rose on Sunday.
On the other side, the European team's DNA has been completely altered with the absence of Colin Montgomerie, Darren Clarke and Jose Maria Olazabal. [Olazabal was at Valhalla as an assistant.] And, Europe's big dogs, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood,
didn't get it done. I won't put Padraig Harrington in this
group because he's never been a Ryder Cup standout, but Europe needed
big wins from Garcia and Westwood, and they didn't get them. By contrast, Ian Poulter made me reconsider his ridiculous-sounding claim that he and Tiger Woods are the two best players in the world. Poulter was a monster and probably the best player this week on either side.
Speaking of Tiger, I expect he'll be stoked to play with Holmes, Kim and Mahan in Wales in 2010. The idea that not having Tiger was good for the U.S. is ridiculous. We won because of who was there, not who wasn't. You always want the best player in
the world on your team. Our problem is that we never found the right
partner for him. Based on what I saw this week, I think Mahan-Tiger
would be a great team. No doubt Tiger will assume his usual defining
role when he comes back to the U.S. team, but he'll like the new players and the
new winning attitude around him.