Europe face tough task to win back Ryder Cup against 'scary' Americans


FILE PHOTO: Golf - The 2020 Ryder Cup - Whistling Straits, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, U.S. - September 26, 2021 Team Europe captain Padraig Harrington congratulates Team USA captain Steve Stricker on the 18th hole after Team USA win the Ryder Cup REUTERS/Mike Segar/File photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Following Europe's Ryder Cup thrashing by the United States at Whistling Straits former captain Colin Montgomerie summed up neatly the challenge facing the next incumbent in the job.

"I don't envy whoever is in charge in Rome," the Scot, whose team won a thriller at Celtic Manor in 2010, told Britain's talkSPORT radio station on Monday.

Padraig Harrington's European team were simply overwhelmed by a high-powered American dozen on the shores of Lake Michigan, sinking without trace in a 19-9 defeat that is likely to mark the end for several of Europe's stalwarts.

Most worrying, according to Montgomerie, is that the American team, whose oldest player was 37-year-old Dustin Johnson, will most likely look pretty similar in Rome in 2023.

"Sometimes in sport it's blissfully simple, if a stronger team, which they were, and they're playing at home, performs to its capabilities, which they did, it's going to win," Montgomerie said. "And that's what happened.

"Their world rankings averaged eight and ours was 30. It was a better team and it was frightening how good they were. It's a little bit worrying for the next couple of Ryder Cups as well as I reckon 10 or 11 of them will be in Italy in two years time.

"It's a worry and I don't envy the next European captain at all."

Harrington's captaincy is coming under scrutiny.

Questions were rightly asked as to why he split the partnership of Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia on Friday afternoon after they had won their opening foursomes match.

LITTLE FLEXIBILITY

His decision to use only three captain's picks, rather than the four Thomas Bjorn had in 2018, also left him with little flexibility to select the players in the best form, although his decision not to choose reliable Ryder Cup points scorer Justin Rose was questionable.

Of Harrington's three picks, only European points record holder Garcia justified the faith while both Shane Lowry and Ian Poulter struggled.

The points qualification system also meant that the likes of 48-year-old Lee Westwood were in the team despite lacking form.

Westwood, playing in his 11th Ryder Cup, struggled on the opening two days alongside fellow Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick who has failed to earn a point in two Ryder Cup appearances.

Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, another merit qualifier, tried his best but ended pointless while fellow rookie Viktor Hovland played in all five sessions, earning just one point.

Aged 24, Norwegian Hovland showed enough to suggest that he will be back in a European team that is clearly in a transitional phase at just the time the Americans are flush with major champions approaching their prime.

"It's scary how good they are," said Montgomerie. "Dustin Johnson is their oldest player and won five points, Bryson (DeChambeau) is getting better and they have the likes of (Collin) Morikawa who was rookie but the Open champion."

"We are in a transition period. We were in 1999 when we lost our top guys Faldo, Langer, Seve, Woosnam, Lyle. This is another one where the old school has probably played their last one, the Poulters, Westwoods, Caseys, they may not play again.

"It's a transition period which has coincided with them being very good so the gap has widened. The U.S. team is probably the best team ever assembled."

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond)

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