First hole, a 364-yard par four known as Outward Bound, Bryson DeChambeau strode confidently and reached for a club in bold anticipation of his second shot. Nothing unusual there, of course, except the club was a putter, and DeChambeau had it ready before he had even left the tee.
A drive to within 41 feet of the flag. DeChambeau had been threatening it all week. On the final day with Europe’s talisman Sergio Garcia in his sights, he delivered the extraordinary. Then he sunk the putt.
Gee whiz, as they say folksily around these parts. Garcia made birdie and went a hole down. What could he have done against that? A hole in one on a par four? And while a single shot does not win a Ryder Cup, DeChambeau’s monstrous first blow seemed to encapsulate what Europe have been up against all week.
Bryson DeChambeau was one of the USA’s stars as they regained the Ryder Cup with ease
The American hit a monumental drive on the first hole and did not look back from there
There can be arguments about team selection or pairings, about splitting Garcia and Jon Rahm on Friday afternoon, about the absence of Justin Rose, but the bottom line is that, right now, the United States are simply better at golf. Much, much better.
Better than they have been at any time in recent memory, in fact. Brooks Koepka was right. All the talk of Europe’s famed team spirit and match play expertise was merely an overcomplication, an unrealistic expectation. The winners would play the best golf; and Team America were always likelier to play the best golf.
So when DeChambeau eagled the first, when he played an almost patented game that was physically beyond his opponent, he seemed to be speaking on behalf of this young American team. Get used to it, he was saying. We’re going nowhere.
You’ve got ten years of this, at least. No wonder Rory McIlroy was in tears by the end.
Increasingly, for European golf, the Ryder Cup is taking on the significance of the British and Irish Lions in rugby. The thought, then, that Europe may cease to be competitive in the short-term must be hard to take. Europe is in desperate need of the young guns that have transformed American team golf.
For that is the worry here. That what we have witnessed in this corner of Wisconsin these last three days is a template, this whitewash, this walkover, is the shape of things to come.
Europe’s Rory McIlroy was emotional after his singles match after he underperformed
Collin Morikawa clinched the American’s triumph as he halved his single match on Sunday
There is a generation of young American players who know each other from college, who play as a team, who have shared memories and experiences. They have bonded here, they have looked at Team Europe and seen the reality, man for man. Jon Rahm is the top ranked golfer in the world.
After him, however, there are ten Americans before the next European name appears, that of Viktor Hovland. The Americans are no longer intimidated by Europe’s legends, they are not scarred or battle weary from past encounters. America has stopped fearing a reversal of logic at the Ryder Cup; they have the beating of Europe, and they draw strength from each other.
Bobby Moore contributed to a book in which famous footballers named the match of their lives. As the captain of England’s only World Cup winning team, one imagines Moore’s choice would be obvious. No.
He picked the 1965 European Cup Winners Cup final, West Ham 2 TSV Munich 1860 0. Of West Ham’s starting XI that day, only two players did not come from London, and only one – goalkeeper Jim Stannard – had not progressed through West Ham’s youth academy.
The camaraderie in that group was what made it special for Moore. ‘It was,’ he said, ‘like winning it with the school football team.’ And that was perhaps what this will have felt like for America, too.
Jon Rahm was one of Europe’s standout players but could do little to turn the tide
The world No 1 won both foursomes along with Sergio Garcia but lost his singles match
DeChambeau and Scottie Scheffler were contemporaries at Texas colleges; Brooks Koepka was at Florida State University with Daniel Berger; Patrick Cantlay won the 2011 Haskins Award, which each year honours the outstanding college golfer. The following year it went to Justin Thomas.
This is a team that has grown up together. The college golf equivalent of the Ryder Cup is the Arnold Palmer Cup. In 2013, America’s team included Thomas and Berger.
Add to that, the oldest player in the team, Dustin Johnson. At 37, he became the first American to take maximum five Ryder Cup points since Larry Nelson in 1979. This was a comprehensive victory.
So while it would be wrong to say it came easily to Steve Stricker’s group, there was none of the drama there might have been from a European rearguard action. America needed 3.5 points on Sunday, meaning the minimum number of matches required for overall victory was four. They did it in five.
After McIlroy picked up his first point of the week against Olympic gold medallist Xander Schauffele – the last time he won a singles match was in 2014 – America threw a red blanket over the rest of the competition.
Dustin Johnson finished with five points after winning all of his five matches over the weekend
Johnson was flawless as the USA got their hands on the Ryder Cup for the first time since 2016
One by one victorious Americans romped home until Collin Morikawa made it official. Roared on by a partisan crowd, it looked fun for the home team. At the sixth, DeChambeau drew a three-wood to disappointment and good-natured boos from the crowd.
‘Don’t worry,’ he assured them. ‘I’m still going for it.’ He just didn’t want to over-club by using his driver to bomb the par four green. That’s big. When DeChambeau’s strategies succeeded – and they often did – he would raise both arms in celebration, making the first letter U for the chant that could be heard across the course.
That captain’s pick Scheffler took down Europe’s star man Rahm demonstrates the potential in this American team. What a Ryder Cup the 25-year-old has had.
Scheffler resolved the conundrum of who could partner a maverick like DeChambeau and then took a point in singles against an opponent Padraig Harrington would have hoped would be his banker. By then, America’s dominance was terrifying.
The winning points came in a rush. Scheffler beating Rahm 4&3 at 2.48pm local, Cantlay 4&2 against Shane Lowry at 2.49pm, DeChambeau 3&2 over Sergio Garcia at 3.19pm, Morikawa all square with Hovland at 3.51pm. Done.
McIlroy endured a difficult week at Whistling Straits, finishing with just a single point
The Northern Irishman missed a day for the first time in his Ryder Cup career on Saturday
Well, not quite. ‘Let’s get to 20 points,’ said Cantlay. ‘Let’s send a message.’
They fell short but, even so, what a message it still was, 19 points, beating the biggest winning total of the European era. Maybe it would have hit 20 had the last three matches had anything to play for, from an American perspective, too.
A further point is that there can be no complaints from a European point-of-view. Drinking beer on the first, even if egged on by the crowd, as Thomas and Berger did on Saturday is boorish and undesirable.
And Koepka should have been disciplined, perhaps even stood down for the singles, for swearing at rules officials. It set a terrible example to any junior golfer watching. Yet there is nothing wrong with a home crowd cheering the home team.
There was no repeat of the Miracle at Medinah as USA fans celebrated their team’s triumph
USA vice captain Phil Mickelson enjoyed his side’s dominant display in the singles on Sunday
And why would they stay silent when European putts or shots went astray? Did the Aston Villa end nod respectfully when Bruno Fernandes put that last minute penalty over the bar? Would an English crowd keep quiet around a dropped Australian catch during an Ashes Test?
This was no Brookline, no War on the Shore. Garcia got a wonderful ovation on the 16th green, as his match drew to a close. There remains admiration for Ian Poulter’s wonderful unbeaten record in singles.
Elsewhere, Americans cheered because their team gave them so much to cheer about. They may well be cheering in Rome in two years’ time, too. One imagines they will have much to celebrate, whatever the locale.