What we learned from the Presidents Cup
The Presidents Cup is not the Ryder Cup. Let's get that out in the open. It's not fair to either event to even try to compare the two.
The Presidents Cup hasn't been around nearly as long. The passion and pressure that comes with a Ryder Cup cannot be matched.
Now that's out of the way, it's fair to say that there are things we learned from this 2017 Presidents Cup that will serve the U.S. well in the 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris.
Here are five of them:
5. Daniel Berger is a star in the making. After just missing out on the 2016 Ryder Cup team, Berger, 24, made sure he was going to make the 2017 Presidents Cup team outright. And that's what he did as the fifth qualifier.
Counting Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth among his good buddies, Berger seems poised and determined to follow their career path as well.
At Liberty National, he put together an impressive rookie campaign with a record of 2-1-0, while clinching the deciding point in his 2 and 1 singles win over Si Woo Kim. Getting a taste of the team competition seems to be everything Berger ever wanted.
He also made some headlines for a 15-second answer he gave on Saturday that could have ruffled some feathers:
OK, maybe not the most gentlemanly words ever uttered by a golfer, but can we at least appreciate the man's honesty? Isn't the Ryder Cup always a little more fun with a villain, real or perceived?
Here's hoping we see more Berger in Paris.
4. Youth is being served for the United States. Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Daniel Berger, Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed — half the U.S. Presidents Cup team — are all 20 somethings. If they can keep form, this will be the nucleus of U.S. teams for years to come. The experience they're getting at such a young age is invaluable.
And the momentum they're generating is even more special. The Ryder Cup is a cyclical event. After years of U.S. domination, the Europeans turned the tide. It looks as though the pendulum could be swinging back in the direction of the U.S.
But let's not get crazy just yet. The Presidents Cup and the Ryder Cup are two completely different animals. Since 1995, the U.S. has only won three of 11 matches in the two events. Next fall in Paris, the Americans will be looking for their first win on foreign soil since 1993.
It's safe to say, however, that it's been a long time since the U.S. has been in such a good place.
3. The presence of captains — the same captains — helps a lot. Similar to the Woods/Mickelson point (below) has been the continuity of captains and assistant captains in both the Presidents and Ryder Cups.
The assistants, it seems, are backstage for an up-close-and-personal look at what it takes to be a captain. And then they get their turn, while also bringing on past captains as assistants. Look at Love. He was an assistant captain at the 2010 Ryder Cup. He captained the 2012 team. He captained the 2016 team and he was an assistant at both the 2015 and 2017 Presidents Cups.
He's seeing everything behind the scenes and has done an incredible job of helping new captains along the way. It's no surprise that Jim Furyk — 2018 U.S. Captain — will also be bringing Love along for the trip to Paris. It just makes sense.
2. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are all in. These guys have two of the best careers in the history of golf. But, unbelievably, of the 14 combined Ryder Cup teams they've been on together as players, Tiger and Phil have been on only one winning team, in 1999, which required a miracle, final-day comeback.
No doubt sick of losing, Mickelson especially was on the forefront of change following a U.S. defeat at the 2014 Ryder Cup. The U.S., he believed along with others like Woods, needed continuity in its leadership. Bring in the likes of their contemporaries — guys like Steve Stricker, Davis Love III, Jim Furyk, Fred Couples and others — and now there's a sense that players know what to expect long before they arrive at the sites of these matches.
Woods, as an assistant captain, and Mickelson, as a player and unofficial assistant captain, have been an inspiration to the younger players. They're helping to create a bond among these players like we've never seen on the U.S. side before. They're all invested in one another and continued success in these team competitions.
1. Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed continue to be an absolute force. Last week at Liberty National, Spieth and Reed went 3-0-1 together. Dating to the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, this super duo has a combined Ryder Cup/Presidents Cup record of 8-1-3. That'll work.
The reason this pairing works so well is that they're polar opposites who complement one another so well. Reed is fiery and always wears his emotions on his sleeve. Spieth is more reserved and has the ability to rein Reed in when need be (which isn't often). And they're both incredibly talented.
This pairing of Spieth and Reed is turning into the dominant force that Europe's Spanish Armada — Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal — enjoyed in so many Ryder Cups.
It's got to be so nice for U.S. Captains in both events, for years to come, knowing there's one duo they can always rely on.