2012 Ryder Cup: What We Learned from This Year's Tournament

Mike ShiekmanFeatured ColumnistSeptember 30, 2012

MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30:  Rory McIlroy of Europe celebrates after Martin Kaymer holed the decisive putt on the 18th green during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
David Cannon/Getty Images

Only 24 hours ago, the US team was in control of the 2012 Ryder Cup, in position to take back the cup barring an awful collapse. Then the worst happened.

The greatest final comeback ever on foreign soil. Martin Kaymer's putt fell into the cup on the 18th green and the Europeans had done the near-impossible: come back from four points down to win the cup on Sunday.

There are a ton of lessons to be learned from this tournament, more on the American side surely. Every one that you would've said yesterday, though, can be thrown out the window.

The European's audacity to weather the Chicago crowd and take down the US has changed the scope from which this Ryder Cup can be viewed.

No Lead is Ever Safe in this Tournament

 The US team seemed to have the 2012 Ryder Cup in the bag, up 10-6 and needing only one-third of their golfers to win singles matches on Sunday.

But no matter how big the lead, the Europeans ensured that this tournament would come down to the wire.

Team Europe stormed back from a seven-point deficit on the Ryder Cup's final day, featuring four straight wins to start off Sunday's single match.

Golfers who had trouble in foursomes all week came alive in their singles matches, none more so than Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia with late wins to keep the Europeans in contention.

The Keegan Bradley roars and fist pumps seem light-years away now.

These Ryder Cup Rookies Had Ice in Their Veins

Many of these first-year Ryder Cup players weren't shy of the moment, pacing their team to multiple points.

Bradley, Jason Dufner and Webb Simpson for the Americans, in particular, won team-play points on their own. Ditto for Nicolas Colsaerts, who basically outdueled Tiger Woods in four ball on the tournament's first day.

Even some of the Ryder Cup veterans who were the epitome of reliability in prior years struggled early on. Westwood and Garcia for the Europeans, Woods and Steve Stricker, in particular, for the Americans. The rookies picked up the slack they left behind.

When the next Ryder Cup captains make their selections in two years, there's no reason for them to overlook first-timers in this competition.

The Future is Bright for Both Sides

In the midst of a dramatic collapse for the Americans, it can be tough to look at this tournament as a grass half-full, but the US team will learn from this experience and be a better squad in upcoming years.

For those who love competitive golf, tough, there will be no shortage of talent for the Ryder Cups in the next decade, you can be sure of that.

In fact, both sides have a ton of young talent who will continue to frequent future Ryder Cup teams.

Rory McIlroy spearheads the European side, along with Kaymer, Graeme Mcdowell and others. On the American end, we'll most certainly see Bubba Watson and hopefully his Happy Gilmore stunt for Ryder Cups to come.