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What next for US Ryder Cup Team?

The latest US humbling at the Ryder Cup has players and officials alike dumbfounded over what they must do to right the balance which has decisively swung in Europe's favour in the last decade.

Sunday's second straight 18.5-9.5 trouncing at the hands of Ian Woosnam's dashing dozen means that the Europeans have won five out of the last six showdowns.

Worse still for the Americans is that what used to be knife-edged affairs are now turning into one-sided routs and they are on the receiving end.

Asked whether the Ryder Cup risked being devalued by the lack of competitiveness shown by the Americans as used to be the case the other way around before Britain and Ireland gave way to Europe, US captain Tom Lehman bristled.

"I guess my first response is that that sounds a little insulting in some ways," he said.

"We have extremely talented players in our tour. I go right down the line there. I'm continually impressed by the caliber of play and the heart and the courage these guys have.

"So things go in cycles and there will be a time when we'll be sitting here saying to the Europeans, is this in danger of becoming a little bit of trouble because the American team is on top."

Lehman admitted, however, that he was unsure how this latest defeat would be received back home where American golf is hallowed as being by far the best in the world.

One of the jibes that fired the European team in Ireland was that the Nationwide Tour in the United States, which is the feeder for the main PGA Tour was the "second best golf tour in the world."

Alluding to that remark, European top-scorer Sergio Garcia said: "Hopefully we won't get that again. There is nothing sweeter than beating the Americans!"

Coming into the K-Club, world No.3 Jim Furyk said that the Americans had to feel more relaxed and less tight as they do when playing in the President's Cup match against the Rest of the World.

That had been achieved, he insisted, but still the result had been dismal for them.

"Everyone wants answers out there, what happened, why, what's the difference between 18 and a half and nine and a half, and I don't think there's a guy in our team that can give you that answer," he said.

"But it's definitely going to have to be a point of reflection in the future. We're going to have to take care of business in two years and reflect and figure out what the difference is."

Key to turning the tide will be the part played by the game's supreme talent Tiger Woods.

Reared on success, the Ryder Cup is the one big blemish on his record with just the one win from the five times he has taken part.

He did top the US scoring chart in Ireland with three points out of a possible five but his much-touted partnership with Furyk meet with mixed success winning two and losing two.

Woods said that he regards himself at 30 years old as a team leader and that can only take on added significance over the next decade of Ryder Cups.

Asked to explain the anomaly that while Europe is dominating at the Ryder Cup, no European player has won a major in the last seven years, Woods said that team spirit was the answer.

"The Europeans just seem to feed off of one another," he said.

"They make more putts than we do. Even the matches that I've been involved in this week, how many times we've been in position to make those momentum-turning putts and we just haven't done that and the Europeans have been doing it all the years that I've been on the team."

Next up for the Americans will be selecting a captain for the next Ryder Cup at the Valhalla course in Louisville, Kentucky in 2008. Whoever gets it will go up against six-times majors winner Nick Faldo who has already been named as Europe's next skipper.

September 26, 2006


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