U.S. Ryder Cup Team captain Tom Watson may have used his three captain’s picks on experience in choosing Webb Simpson, Hunter Mahan and Keegan Bradley, but the weight of that ever-evasive Cup rests on the shoulders of the American rookies.
At least, that’s what Frank Nobilo, Johnny Miller and David Feherty concluded during a Ryder Cup preview conference call on Friday.
Feherty and Nobilo kept coming back to the fact that the United States has arguably the most talented young golfers, setting them up for potential success at Gleneagles next week. Jordan Spieth, Jimmy Walker and Patrick Reed are in the top echelonsof golf with plenty of hunger for their first Ryder Cup appearances.
“We need a couple of our youngsters to play well, and maybe if we can quiet one or two of those players on the European side…momentum is the most extraordinary thing,” said Feherty.
The U.S. team will need that momentum going into a European home-turf scenario in Scotland. Nobilo mentioned that although the course -- designed by Jack Nicklaus -- could favor American style of play, the wet and windy conditions most familiar to the Europeans could hamper the American’s chances.
That, and the sheer fanaticism of the event, which European side possesses feverishly.
“They just cannot wait,” Miller said of the European players. “I mean, the press starts talking about the Ryder Cup the week after the Ryder Cup, and it’s two years away. It’s just a love fest.”
Love fest or not, both teams are out to win. And as the Ryder Cup gets older, the margins by which the winner takes it home get smaller. In the years between 2002-2006, the Europeans blew out the U.S. But since the U.S. team took it home in 2008, the Europeans have squeaked through victorious in the last two Cups by just a point.
This just makes Miller, Nobilo, Feherty -- and likely most golf fans -- all the more excited.
“That’s all I’ve been thinking about,” Miller said.
“It’s the greatest event in golf for me,” echoed Feherty.
A former European Ryder Cupper who changed allegiances when he became an American citizen, Feherty said the Europeans need to stay out of their own heads and deal with the pressure of being heavily favored to win. Miller advised the U.S. to focus on winning their foursomes and four-ball games if they wanted to remain competitive.
“I just think that all the world, when they get a chance to beat the U.S., it’s a big deal,” Miller said of Team Europe. “And nothing else matters to Tom Watson … it’s going to be, ‘You better win the danged thing,’ that’s all there is to it.”
With all the drama there is to play out in the coming week, Miller, Feherty and Nobilo were all relieved that another potential source of drama was out of the way, so that all that was left to focus on was the rowdy, crowd-riling fun of the biennial golf tournament.
“I’m just glad that Scotland is a part of the United Kingdom, otherwise the whole thing could have gone to hell in a handcart,” Feherty said.
“I was thinking the same thing,” Miller said. “This could mess up the Ryder Cup!”
NBC and the Golf Channel will broadcast more than a combined 85 hours of coverage starting Monday, the most ever from a European event.