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Young US golf stars target dominant era

·3-min read

When Europe's players won the Ryder Cup in Paris in 2018 they enjoyed some fun at the expense of an American journalist who had predicted a US victory would precede a decade of "blowouts".

But after their record defeat at the hands of a new generation of American stars at Whistling Straits, it may turn out that the prediction had been just slightly premature.

FedEx Cup winner Patrick Cantlay was one of six rookies on the victorious US side but, with his side 11-5 ahead going into Sunday's 12 singles matches, he had been urging his teammates to reach 20 points "to send a message" to their opponents.

Three-time major winner Jordan Spieth also claimed boldly that the likes of Cantlay, Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele, Scottie Scheffler and Daniel Berger - who are all in their 20s - could even buck the trend of home winners and repeat the same 19-9 scoreline at Marco Simone Golf Club in Italy in 2023.

And while the US are now relying on players with less scar tissue - or none at all - from an era when Europe dominated the biennial contest, Whistling Straits proved one too many for the visiting stalwarts, 48-year-old Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter (45) and Paul Casey (44).

Sergio Garcia, 41, did win three points alongside world No.1 Jon Rahm, although it will be a tall order for the pair to live up to their billing of the new 'Spanish Armada' and emulate the 11-2-2 record of Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal.

Rory McIlroy, the first to call out the American journalist in that post-event press conference in Paris, said: "I think the most important thing for the US team is a lot of young guys that are great players have bought into the Ryder Cup. I think that was probably missing in previous generations.

"Guys like Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, the sort of heartbeat of that US team, they really bought into the team aspect of Ryder Cups, Presidents Cups.

"And having guys like that on the team, they are going to be formidable opposition from now until I'm probably not playing Ryder Cups, whenever that is, in hopefully 20 years' time."

Attention now turns to who will captain each side in 2023, with US captain Steve Stricker ruling out a second spell while Westwood is the favourite to lead Europe's bid to regain the trophy.

Westwood has made no secret of his desire to succeed Padraig Harrington as Europe's captain, although the fact he recovered from two down with four to play to beat Harris English in his otherwise meaningless singles means he still harbours ambitions of a record 12th appearance as a player.

"It might be the last match I've played in the Ryder Cup," Westwood said. "I'd rather it wasn't, but I'm 49 next April, and the likelihood is it is. I got to share it with my son (Sam, his caddie). Won my point. They are special moments out there."

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