When it comes to the Ryder Cup, there is no doubt that the American team is desperate for a victory this year at Hazeltine. The PGA of America assembling a task force may have been excessive, but it’s clear that there has to be some change, whether it is with the culture, or the strategy.
First, let’s look at this years’ United States team. On paper, the United States would typically appear to be the clear cut favorite. With Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, and Phil Mickelson headlining the roster, you’d expect nothing but confidence heading into the week, but this is not the case. Almost every player on the team has been in bad form. Dustin Johnson, who was supposed to be one of the few guys that was playing good golf prior to the tournament, had a slip up in The Tour Championship last weekend. Going into the final round of the event last Sunday, he was tied for the lead. Johnson went on to shoot a final round 73, squandering himself of the Fedex cup title. As a result, his momentum may have taken a huge hit.
Now let’s look at team Europe. First of all, Rory McIlroy is coming into this Ryder Cup scorching hot. His exhilarating performance down the stretch in the final round of The Tour Championship will be remembered by golf fans for a long time. Europe also has The Masters champion (Danny Willet), the British Open champion (Henrik Stenson), and the Olympic Gold medalist (Justin Rose). In addition, Europe is coming off three straight Ryder Cup wins. With these factors in mind, it seems like the European team is going into the week with a lot of confidence.
When you look at how much attention the media is giving to this specific Ryder Cup, it just proves how much pressure there really is on the American team. You would think that forming the task force would help the performance of the team, but I think that all it is doing it making things more complicated. Yes, the thought of having Tiger, Phil and other former Ryder Cup captains game planning together does sound fantastic, but at the end of the day will it make that big of a difference? I think not.
After the heartbreak at Medinah in 2012 and the meltdown at Gleneagles in 2014, the United States team appears to be doing too much to fix the cause. Golf is a funny game. Often times playing with too much in your head is a bad thing. Europe is playing loose while the U.S. is playing tense, which is not a good sign.
Am I saying that the United States team will definetly lose? No. Perhaps the task force will rejuvenate the team more then I am anticipating. The best thing U.S.A. can do for itself this week is simple. Go out, ignore all the B.S., and just play their game. The rest will take care of itself.