To put this in football terms, it would appear the U.S. Ryder Cup operation is having a good, clean camp. The work is being put in, and there’s a difference from the last time a Ryder Cup was held on European soil. That U.S. team was loaded, had its own analytics army, and more player cohesion for Paris in 2018. But the players had done little to no scouting of host venue Le Golf National, with almost the entire roster skipping the European Tour event in France that year and taking zero trips to see the course in the lead-up to the matches. This fact was cited several times in postmortems on the blowout loss. The team was caught flat-footed and had several players glaringly mismatched for the course or simply not ready for what it required.
This past week, by contrast, almost the entire team made a trip to Italy during what’s supposed to be downtime for PGA Tour stars. It’s not the biggest sacrifice, but no doubt it was helpful. The players, including a few who will now head to California for the first event of the Tour’s fall schedule, saw Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in conditions close to what they’ll likely experience in a couple of weeks. The only players missing appeared to be Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele, and Patrick Cantlay. Meanwhile, the European operation is spread around the world and has an upcoming marquee tournament at Wentworth.
How much all of this matters when the stands are full and the shots counting at the end of this month is a separate matter. Still, it can’t hurt to go through as much prep and team-building as possible. The USA is doing its due diligence. Whether it helps depends on the situation. It sure looked like Joe Burrow could have used more live-action reps before Week 1 in the NFL. On the other hand, you had the Pittsburgh Steelers, of Mike Tomlin’s famous “it’s difficult to box without sparring” approach to the preseason, getting absolutely blasted from the start on Sunday.
So let’s not overhype the U.S. trip, but it’s worth noting the effort and apparent commitment from almost the entire team to do what they can to end this drought on Euro soil.
This piece originally appeared in The Fried Egg newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.