European golfers be afraid — be very afraid.
The strength of US golf has arguably never looked in a better shape and — according to Dustin Johnson — its golfers are “going to be very good for a long time” after the world No. 1 and his teammates completed a one-sided 19-11 victory against an International team in the Presidents Cup on Sunday.
America’s dominance over the first three days of the tournament had rendered the Sunday singles almost a formality. Leading the Internationals by 11 points at the start of the day, Steve Stricker’s men only required half a point to retain the trophy.
Kevin Chappell got the job done with a tied-match against Marc Leishman but it was Daniel Berger’s win over Si Woo Kim that secured the outright victory — the seventh in a row for Team USA.
“We’re really looking forward to the Ryder Cup”
Johnson halved his singles match with Branden Grace but he finished unbeaten for the week and brought home an impressive four-and-a-half points for his country overall.
“We’ve got a really special team here on the US side,” Johnson told CNN Sport’s Don Riddell.
“I think we’re going to be very good for a long time.
“The guys are just good. We all trust each other, we all believe in each other’s abilities and we all want to be here and we all want to win.”
The International team doesn’t include golfers from Europe in the Presidents Cup, but with the Ryder Cup less than a year away, the nature of the US victory will have set alarm bells ringing among Europe’s top players competing at the British Master over the weekend.
The US took the Samuel Ryder trophy with a convincing 17-11 win at Hazeltine in 2016 and, after backing that up with such a dominant Presidents Cup performance, they will be full of confidence heading to Le Golf National, near Paris, next September.
Europe have won six of the last eight Ryder Cups and have not lost on home soil since Tom Watson’s America side triumphed at the Belfry in 1993.
“We’re very optimistic,” says Johnson, who has played three Ryder Cups.
“We’re really looking forward to the Ryder Cup next year. But it’s going to be very tough playing on their turf.
“Playing in France is going to be very difficult but I’m really looking forward to making that team and going over there and playing.”
“I’ve never been part of a team that’s this talented”
Phil Mickelson — affectionately nicknamed “Grandpa” by his teammates — racked up his 100th team appearance for the US on Sunday.
The 47-year-old is the only player to have competed in all 12 editions of the Presidents Cup and he shares Johnson’s excitement when it comes to the US team’s current crop of superstars.
“I’ve never been part of a team all these years that’s this talented and gone out and lit the course up like this and had such a big lead going into the Sunday singles,” Mickelson, who justified his wildcard pick with three-and-a-half points over the week, told reporters.
Mickelson is convinced his side have what it takes to defend the trophy and he is determined to be part of the action.
“Next year going to Paris and being part of the Ryder Cup team — it’s been 25 years since we won a Ryder Cup over there. That would be a real big goal of mine,” said Mickelson who has not won an individual tournament since the 2013 British Open.
“I’ve got a lot to work hard on, look forward to and a lot of goals to achieve to make the team. But I think that would really be a career moment for me if we could over there and keep the Ryder Cup.”
Trump dedicates win to hurricane victims
The Presidents Cup began with Mickelson sharing a selfie with former Presidents Obama, Bush Jr and Clinton, but it was the current incumbent of the Oval Office who took center stage at the close of the tournament.
Donald Trump presented the trophy to winning captain Steve Stricker, and dedicated the victory to those people suffering from the effects of hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
“I want to just remember them and we are going to dedicate this trophy to all those people that went through so much,” said the President who spent Sunday morning at his golf resort in Bedminster before heading to Liberty National for the ceremony.
Before the speech, Trump had been heavily criticized for his Twitter attack on San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, who had complained about the White House’s hurricane relief effort in Puerto Rico.
In the buildup to the tournament, Trump also caused a stir in the sporting world with his fierce criticism of professional athletes — especially NFL players — who protest social injustice and refuse to stand during the US National Anthem.
Stricker “thrilled” to receive trophy from President
US captain Stricker and his team earlier in the week decided against any kind of protest and was delighted to receive the trophy from the President.
“I thought it was a great thrill,” Stricker said. “I thought it was a great opportunity for us to be with him.
“This tournament is about respecting the office, respecting the President of the United States. Whether your views may be one way versus another, that wasn’t what it was about there on the green.
“It was about us getting together as a team, playing for one another, playing for the USA — and it was a great thrill for all of us to get the trophy handed to us from him.”