4:59 | Tour & News
Confidential: Is the U.S. really this good?
With young star power the U.S. dominated Europe in the Presidents Cup. Are they poised to do the same at next year's Ryder Cup? PLUS: Donald Trump speaks to his base.
By Alan Shipnuck
Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Well, that wasn't exactly a fun Presidents Cup but it was quite revealing. I tweeted on Sunday that this U.S. team is so deep/talented/cohesive I'm afraid they'll ruin the Ryder Cup, too, with a decade or more of blowouts. That touched off plenty of debate, which is still playing out here…

"Ryder Cup next year, what is the final score? #AskAlan" -Andrew (@a_h_davies)

16-12, to the Yanks, making it the first American victory in Europe in a quarter- century. The margin would be bigger but Le National is basically TPC Paris, and its target-golf design will not allow the U.S. team to fully exploit its power advantage. Europe will certainly fight hard, in part because it will be the last stand for its aging core: Lee Westwood, if he makes the team, will be 45; Henrik Stenson, 42; Ian Poulter, 42; Sergio Garcia, 38; Justin Rose, 38. Poulter didn't even make the team in 2015, Westy was abysmal at Hazeltine, and Stenson/Rose/Garcia buckled under the heavy burden they were asked to carry. (Rory McIlroy was electric for two days but he, too, ran out of gas in singles.) After his Masters breakthrough Danny Willett was expected to be a European stalwart but turned out to be a disappointment, to say the least, and right now seems highly doubtful to even make future European teams. Thomas Pieters was a revelation at the 2016 Cup but has been quite mediocre since. No doubt Jon Rahm will be a handful, but it's asking a lot for a rookie to be a savior. This applies to Alex Noren, too.

The 2016 Ryder Cup was the first of the Task Force era, and the improved communication, collaboration and game-planning was obvious amongst the U.S. leadership. This Presidents Cup offered the chance to test out new pairings – JT/Rickie! – and fine-tune other details, while grooming future captains. (In the Task Force era, future Ryder Cup shot-callers are made Presidents vice-captains.) And look at the big steps taken by the U.S. players since the fall of 2016: Thomas, who will be a Ryder rookie, became golf's player of the year; Spieth won another major and reasserted himself as golf's alpha male; Dustin Johnson spent almost all of this year at number one; Brooks Koepka won the U.S. Open. Throw in Fowler and Patrick Reed and that is a tremendous core for the next decade or more. They will be augmented by wily vets (Phil! Kuch! Zach! Bubba! Sneds! Duf!) and spicy young comers (Daniel Berger, Kevin Kisner). Project to 2020 and Stenson-Rose-Garcia-Poulter will all be in their 40s; as they fade away the balance of power shifts even more in favor of the U.S. As I type this I become even more convinced that America is going to own the Ryder Cup for a very long time.

Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed

Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed will likely square off next fall in Paris. But who else will be on their teams?
Getty Images

"Should the Presidents Cup winners be served alcohol before the pressers? Do we like those optics? #AskAlan" -@ScottyGMan23

The more the better! The press conferences were honestly the most entertaining part of this Cup, and the American players being buzzed was a big part of why!

“#AskAlan: Furyk announces today that the Prez Cup team is next year's Ryder Cup team. Who says no?" -Amol (@amolyanjnik)

Young studs like Xander Schauffele, Tony Finau, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Cantlay, Ollie Schniederjans, Grayson Murray, Wesley Bryan and Maverick McNealy, all of whom will be grinding to make their first team, a testament to the depth of twentysomething American talent.

“Is the lack of diversity and social awareness by players and fans repulsive, or is it just me? I just became engaged with golf this year. It's brutal." -Orin (@1jacksonorin)

Aw, c'mon, President Trump dedicated the Presidents Cup trophy to the people of Puerto Rico – how much more awareness do you want?! I'm glad you've discovered golf, Orin. It's the greatest game ever invented, testing you physically, emotionally and spiritually. There's no better way to spend time with friends or commune with nature. In all of sports there is nothing more intense that the dead-calm that surrounds a big moment at a big tournament. Try to focus on these wonderful things, and not the sad fact that the culture of private clubs and the professional game is usually decades behind the rest of American society when it comes to issues of inclusivity regarding race and gender. To gaze upon the U.S. team and its leadership at the Presidents Cup was to see the very definition of white privilege. Tiger Woods was the only minority, and since turning pro he has always embodied Orange County conservatism and country club values. (I mean, the dude could have sprung for any band in the world to play his wedding and he chose Hootie and the Blowfish.) So if you're looking for social awareness from your heroes it's going to have to come from somewhere else.

“When a player buys the media beer after an ace, how much does he buy and do they even get consumed?" -Alan (@AN_Golf)

Duh, it all gets imbibed. It's pretty easy to get a headcount of how many reporters are on-hand, and that number varies widely depending on the event. But it's always a lot of beer and there's never any left.

“Could the best women's golfers (Lexi/Lydia) keep their card on the Web.com tour? Heated argument this weekend, haha. -Joe (@FIGJAM83)

I love Lydia Ko, and watching her around the greens is a pleasure, but she hits it too short to have a realistic chance to keep her card on a steady diet of 7,200-yard courses. Lexi is a different case – she drives it long enough to be of average or slightly below average length on the Web. Her iron game is good enough to compete out there but her putting comes and goes, which can be said of a lot of guys on that tour. Lexi grew up competing against her brothers Nicolas (a PGA Tour journeyman) and Curtis (who is making he way on the Web). They always made her play the back tees so big golf courses don't intimidate her, nor do guys who hit the ball past her. Lexi has guts and loves a challenge – I'm gonna say she keeps her card.

Extra Spin
The best golf jokes

“What's your favorite golf joke?" -Christie (@ThatAssetThough)

On the first tee three guys are paired with a gorgeous young woman. She plays a very good round and looking over a short putt on the 18th hole says,"If I hole this I'll break 80 for the first time. I'll have sex with whichever one of you helps me make the putt." The three dudes start tripping over each other to read the break. The first guy says, "One cup outside right." The second guy declares, "Left edge." The third guy says, "Pick it up, that's good!"

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