By Associated Press
SHEBOYGAN, Wis. — The Americans won back the Ryder Cup and perhaps a whole lot more Sunday, sending a strong message with their youngest team by giving Europe its worst loss ever.
They never lost a session. They rode the experience of Dustin Johnson, who won all five of his matches and leaned on six Ryder Cup newcomers who combined for a 14-4-3 record.
Daniel Berger won the final hole in the final match for the final point and a 19-9 victory, breaking by a half-point the record margin since Europe became part of the Ryder Cup in 1979.
“This is a new era,” U.S. captain Steve Stricker said. “These guys are young. They want it. They’re motivated. They came here determined to win. I could see it in their eyes.”
And he could see it on the scoreboards across Whistling Straits, filled with American red all afternoon in a performance that was dominant from the opening session Friday morning.
Scottie Scheffler, one of six Ryder Cup rookies for the U.S., took down the No. 1 player in the world with a 4-and-3 victory over Jon Rahm. Scheffler won the opening four holes and birdied five of the first six. He was among three rookies who were unbeaten this week.
The clinching blow came from Collin Morikawa, at 24 the youngest player on the team and already a two-time major champion. He made a 3-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole that assured the Americans at least the 14 1/2 points they needed.
They wanted more.
“I woke up this morning and I was trying to tell the guys, ‘Let’s get to 20 points,’ because this is going to be the next era of Ryder Cup team for the U.S. side,” Patrick Cantlay said after he completed an unbeaten week with a win over Shane Lowry.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys. I think they’re going to be on teams for a long time, and I wanted to send a message.”
Tony Finau had said on the eve of these matches that this was “the big one” because Europe had won nine of the last 12, and the Americans had so many fresh faces without any lasting scars from watching Europe celebrate so much over the years. It was a chance to change the culture, and this was a massive step.
The gallery saved one of its loudest cheers for Stricker, the Wisconsin native who has been at the helm of two blowouts. He guided the U.S. team to a 19-11 victory in the Presidents Cup in 2017, and added his signature piece at Whistling Straits.
Johnson became the first American since Larry Nelson in 1979 to go 5-0, completing his perfect week by beating Paul Casey in a match he never trailed.
Casey, Matt Fitzpatrick and Bernd Wiesberger all failed to win a point. Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter, part of the backbone of European experience, didn’t win a match until singles, and by then it was too late.
The Americans were young, yes, and very good, with four of the top five in the world ranking. And they finally played like it. Those four players — Johnson, Morikawa, Cantlay and Xander Schauffele — combined for a 14-1-2 record.
“It’s not just the strongest U.S. team I’ve seen, but they all played well this week,” Lee Westwood said. “Everybody performed and turned up this week. Looks like they are a team.”
Stricker wasn’t the only one in tears.