Pete Cowen: Ryder Cup wasn’t won off the tee

Before panic sets in and you all think the USA will dominate the Ryder Cup for decades to come due to their 400 yards power hitters, look at the statistics, you will be shocked!

Having just come back from the Ryder Cup and hearing everyone bang on about how Europe got demolished and the Americans were just too powerful was just complete rubbish.

A lot of sports fans who watch events from the comfort of their sofas with the sound turned up you cannot get a true reflection of an atmosphere or what is going on behind the scenes unless you are physically present at the event.

Too many have been sucked in by the likes of Bryson driving it 412 yards and then jump to conclusions that the bombers over-powered Europe. The Americans did over-power Europe 100 per cent, but it wasn’t off the tee but on and around the greens.

That’s right, Europe led the stats from tee to green but with the greens running at 13 on the Stimp metre, the Europeans who are used to speeds closer to 10, just could not see the lines, unlike team USA.

In addition, the atmosphere was awful. With no European spectators and being heckled on the tee boxes, it was always going to be a tough ask playing away from home. I even got abuse for ruining Rory’s swing! Harrington told all the team members, including myself, not to rise to any taunts. But if anyone knows me…let’s just say, the fans got a firm Yorkshire response.

That’s not sportsmanship and we have grown to anticipate what is going to come from the American galleries. But with no European balance, it felt even worse this time round.

The wind also caught Europe off guard, as it had switched 180 degrees from the practice days and the players had to adjust on the fly, whereas the Americans had been there for close to a week and might have practiced in similar conditions.

Having said all that, you cannot take it away from Steve Stricker and his players, they were just too good, especially around the greens. With the European stalwarts fading, a new breed of European stars is needed, as the American’s appeared to be finding talent for fun. Just look at the world ranking – it is a sea of stars and stripes.

American college stars are the answer for Europe

The answer for Europe is not from Golf England or the club system. We just need to see where the current stars are appearing from, and it is the American college golf scene. Rahm, Hovland, Casey, and Fitzpatrick all came through the system in the States, where they competed all the time against the best amateurs throughout the season. So that is where we need to look. Thomas Pieters and Thomas Detry should be up there more given their talents and the fact they have also come through the American system.

Other players coming through to keep an eye on are Germany’s Matti Schmid and Alex Fitzpatrick – you guessed it, both coming out of the American college system. I’ve seen Matti in Orlando for a day and was meant to see him at the Alfred Dunhill Links but the petrol crisis in the UK meant I was unable to make the trip. What I have seen of him is impressive and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in Rome in 2023. He has the complete game and reminds me of Langer and Kaymer, which is a great thing. Both are Major champions and like all great players have that special ingredient you just can’t teach.

Obviously, I know Alex Fitzpatrick well, as he’s grown up at our range in Rotherham and if he maintains a top five college ranking will earn a Korn Ferry Tour card in 2022. That is where both Morikawa and Hovland made their way on to the PGA Tour, so worth keeping an eye out for the European stars of the future on that tour as opposed to the Challenge Tour.

It was good to catch up with my players at the Ryder Cup on both sides. Rory is making good progress with his swing and Brooks should have been a Yorkshireman. I joked with him and said he was one of Europe’s highest points-scorers, with two losses in the Saturday foursomes and fourballs. As always, he laughed it off and gave some banter back in return. But to be up for 36 holes on the Saturday goes to show he’s coming back well from his injuries. Not that he would let on if he was in pain. He just gets on with the job.

What many people were unaware of was he nearly played with Bryson. He was trying Bryson’s Bridgestone ball on the range and the two appeared to be getting on fine. The pairing never happened, much to the disappointment of the fans and the PGA Tour. Imagine if these two teamed up, the viewing figures would rocket. It just goes to show how much hype is put out there with these two through the media.

It will be great to see Billy Horschel at the DP World Tour Championship, although doesn’t it go to show how strong that American Ryder Cup team was when he didn’t take the line-up!

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