Miller: Rookies will be key for U.S. in Ryder Cup


With the veteran foundation of the U.S. Ryder Cup effort failing so profoundly for more than a decade, American rookies and young blood are a welcome dynamic next week in Scotland.

Youth might best serve the American bid to win the cup on foreign soil for the first time in 21 years.

That’s the view coming out of the NBC/Golf Channel teleconference Friday advancing television coverage of next week’s biennial competition.

“I really believe the veterans need help, I really do,” NBC analyst Johnny Miller said.

Golf Channel’s Frank Nobilo and David Feherty agreed.

“The nucleus of that team, the American side, has been pretty much the same since Valderrama, and that's where they've lost seven of the last nine,” Nobilo said. “To Johnny's point, if you just throw some fresh people out there, some fresh meat, so to speak, that are just hungry, they don't know what a loss is, and what a win is, sometimes that's an advantage, because you're not trying to play for a resumé. You're not trying to play to redeem the loss for last [time], you're just playing golf.”

Feherty is from Northern Ireland, but he's now a U.S. citizen and unabashedly aligns himself with the Americans.

“We need a couple of our youngsters to play well,” Feherty said.

Miller is eager to see how Ryder Cup rookies Jordan Spieth, Jimmy Walker and Patrick Reed perform and how the youthful energy of Rickie Fowler and Keegan Bradley help.

“I would have been happy if the U.S. had eight rookies, just because the guys that should be anchors, players like [Jim] Furyk and even [Matt] Kuchar and [Phil] Mickelson, and of course Tiger is not there, but those guys hardly had a 50 percent winning record,” Miller said. “I would have got the guys that have never lost before, and see what they could do, because, obviously, losing five out of the last six matches, guys like Furyk have not done well, and they haven't led the team to do anything but lose.”

Furyk and Mickelson are the most veteran American Ryder Cup participants going to Gleneagles. Furyk is 9-17-4 overall in the matches. Mickelson is 14-18-6.

“Three rookies could make or break the U.S. team,” Miller said. “There are guys that could be magical, like a Larry Nelson when he first went in the Ryder Cup, or a Lanny Wadkins.

“I think it's these young guys, including Rickie Fowler, maybe those four guys might be the difference versus the veterans. Could be the same thing for Europe. That's just the way I look at it. I don't want to put pressure on Spieth and Reed and Walker, but I think it's really important what they do, really important. And I'd play them right away.”

Europe also features three Ryder Cup rookies in Victor Dubuisson, Stephen Gallacher and Jamie Donaldson.

“This is probably the strongest set of rookies, for a long while, ever to take the field in a Ryder Cup,” Golf Channel analyst Frank Nobilo said.