US channel team spirit in Ryder Cup takedown of Europe
Kohler (United States) (AFP) –
The US big guns assembled to take down Europe in the Ryder Cup checked their egos and leaned in to captain Steve Stricker's plan to emerge with an epic victory.
Heck, even famously feuding PGA Tour colleagues Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka ended the day at Whistling Straits embracing after a 19-9 drubbing of the Europeans.
At least once it was to the mocking strains of their teammates singing "Why Can't We Be Friends?"
"I mean, even Brooks and Bryson wanted to play together, that's how much it came together," Stricker said of the spirit of unity that prevailed in the team room.
It's that kind of spirit that Europe parlayed -- along with some fine golf -- into four victories in the past five editions of the trans-Atlantic match play contest.
European veteran Ian Poulter called it their "magic sauce," and while the US team featured nine of the top 11 players in the world -- and a host of major championship winners -- doubters feared they wouldn't be able to gel in the unfamiliar team format.
DeChambeau and Koepka, whose social media spat spiraled into a fued that had Koepka fans heckling DeChambeau at tournaments, were a chief concern, and Stricker apparently never considered pairing them together for foursomes or four-balls matches.
But even before the exhortations of their teammates in the triumphant media conference, the two were spotted hugging on the course, and DeChambeau said the week had proved that they could set aside differences to get a job done.
"We can all come together as one team," DeChambeau said. "We came together and had unity here this week. Even though we are competitors, we can all be friends and have unity."
Stricker, who noted his side had an "unheard of" average ranking of 8.9 in the world, said he just tried to set the players up for success and then stay out of their way.
Koepka stuck to his guns when asked about some pre-Cup comments to Golf Digest, in which he seemed to denigrate the team experience.
"Y'all spun that negatively," he said, sitting amongst his teammates with the trophy parked in front of them. "I said it's different. That's all I said, and it is different.
"It is different than an individual event, and we come together as a team, it's great, man. I love it."
© 2021 AFP