Ryder Cup 2014: Team USA - Five key takeaways from Gleneagles

Reed was a rare bright spot at Gleneagles. (©GettyImages)

Europe retained the Ryder Cup - and it wasn't a surprise to anyone.

Jamie Donaldson stuck his approach shot on the 15th hole to about two feet, and once the putt was conceded, the cup had officially been retained.

The Europeans have once again been victorious winning the Ryder Cup for the eighth time in the last ten years. With the 40th edition of the competition now over, here are five key takeaways from the weekend for team USA...

Hard to be surprised from Results

Although American fans are disappointed, the outcome of the 40th Ryder Cup really comes as no surprise. It really would have been a tall order for Team USA to pull this one off.

The Europeans had better players, more experience, and the home field advantage. They had four of the top six players in the world. Two of those four players had combined for three of the year’s major championships.

Team Europe had the depth and experience on their side as well. Lee Westwood has now been on seven winning Ryder Cup teams and is tied with Arnold Palmer in fifth place for all-time Ryder Cup points. Additionally, Team Europe was empowered by a fervent crowd shouting clever jingles such as 'You have big mac, we have G-mac'.

Not finishing

What plagued team USA at Medinah Country Club in 2012 also factored into today. On that Sunday during the 39th Ryder Cup, players like Phil Mickleson and Jim Furyk were unable to clean up their matches on the back nine, allowing the Europeans to complete their unthinkable comeback.

Although hard to say whether it would have made a difference, at the start of the day, chances for a Team USA comeback looked promising. But on the back nine, Jordan Spieth gave up a three-hole lead to Graeme McDowell, losing the match, and Hunter Mahan threw away a four-up lead to halve his match with Justin Rose.

As Tom Watson said over the past few days, it is not how you start a match, but how you finish. The Americans could not close.

Rickie Fowler comes up short again

Rickie Fowler has now gone through another Ryder Cup winless. Many would say that Fowler’s play throughout the competition was pretty good, producing three halves for team USA.

The loss was tough, but he simply ran into a brick wall, as Rory McIlroy played absolutely relentless golf in the singles. But similar to the way his career has gone thus far; Fowler has not been able to break through. He contended in every one of the season’s majors but could not win.

And now again in the Ryder Cup, Fowler has played well but has nothing to show for it. Everyone including the man himself is wondering when his good play will translate into tangible results.

Bad Breaks

Now make no mistake, the Europeans played excellent and deserved to win. But Team USA was not able to catch a break this entire month in regards to the Ryder Cup.

It all started about a month ago when Billy Horschel choked on the eighteenth hole at the Deutsche Bank Championship, leaving him out of the running as a captain’s pick. Horschel went on to win the next two weeks, and just like that, America’s hottest player was not on the team.

Aside from Horschel, the bounces on the course refused to fall in favour for the Americans this weekend. Maybe it was yesterday when Spieth’s approach shot into the bunker of the 18th hole landed right up against the lip, forcing Reed to hit out away from the hole, resulting in a bogey and halve of the match.

Or it could have been Sunday on hole 13 when both Rose and Kaymer hit their wayward drives into the deep rough almost against a collection of bushes, but somehow ended up with good lies and were able to knock their approach shots close. Whatever it was, it did not help Team USA gain any momentum.

Patrick Reed and the Rookies

The one really positive thing for Team USA was that all of the rookies proved their merit. Jordan Spieth, Jimmie Walker, and Patrick Reed performed well, and the future is promising.

Reed is the real deal. He was the top earner for Team USA collecting 3.5 points while taking down notable European players Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson. Reed also showed a lot of passion, which garnered praise from European legends Darren Clarke and Colin Montgomerie.

At times, he played with a chip on his shoulder, getting into battles with the crowd throughout his Sunday match. But this is exactly what Team USA needs in the future. A player with extreme intensity and fire that also has the performance to back up the attitude.

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