Nobody expected the United States to overtake Europe at the 2014 Ryder Cup.
In that way, the event from Gleneagles delivered.
Like clockwork, world No. 1 Rory McIlroy and a host of proven veterans on the international stage dismantled a hodgepodge of American names. Team USA was headlined by a slew of young players with a veteran presence in Phil Mickelson, who entered the fray after arguably his worst season in a decade or more.
Here is a final look at the results from the event, plus analysis about the top talking points after the jump.
Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth Are the Future
On a roster with a number of younger players looking to leave a mark, two rose above the rest and might have done even more if poor captaining had not interfered.
Jordan Spieth was a bit of a long shot to turn in a strong performance after missing a cut and finishing better than 22nd only once in his last five tournaments.
The young star rebounded in a major way on the international stage while paired with the polarizing Patrick Reed. Remember, Reed is the guy who once called himself a top-five player before taking a nosedive in play and in the realm of public perception.
Thanks to an attitude from Reed in a hostile environment and sound play from both, the duo won 5 and 4 in fourball on Friday morning before being inexplicably benched during the afternoon session.
It was a mistake that captain Tom Watson later owned up to, as captured by Rex Hoggard of the Golf Channel:
The two were active together the rest of the way, winning 5 and 3 the next morning before halving the opposition in the later session.
Regardless of how strange decisions held the duo back, it is quite clear both will be critical parts of the formula in future years. This is especially the case with Reed, who became the first U.S. rookie to win three matches with no losses since Mickelson in 1995.
Speaking of the formula, there are a few things in need of correcting.
Drastic Changes to the Entire Formula
The Reed-Spieth gaffe was not the only issue during the weekend.
Easily the best pairing Team USA brought to the table, which seems to always be the case, was the proven duo of Mickelson and Keegan Bradley. The two got off to a hot start on Day 1 with a win, one of two on the day for the team.
Then Mickelson sat out the entirety of Day 2.
His first full day on the bench in his 10-year run at the Ryder Cup, at that.
"Saturday morning we were both on and ready to go," Mickelson said, per Doug Ferguson of The Associated Press. "Unfortunately, we didn't have that chance. Today we were hopefully putting it to good use."
As a whole, Team USA predictably stood strong in individual play such as singles and fourball competitions but fell apart in dramatic fashion during foursomes, where players alternate shots.
The point of that aspect is to set a teammate up to capitalize on his strengths, and while Team USA certainly has the talent to excel in this area, the six losses suffered did not even reach the 18th hole. This sort of lackluster pairing and outright communication failure directly falls on the shoulders of the captain.
In turn, the blame goes all the way up the ladder. Paul Azinger, a man who captained the United States to victory at the Ryder Cup recently in 2008, explained the situation best, per Alan Shipnuck of Sports Illustrated, via Golf.com:
A big difference between us and them is that Europe always has a succession plan. McGinley was surrounded by past captains and future captains, and they all reap the benefits. We’re lone rangers as far as captains go. Nobody knows what we’ve done in the past. There’s zero collaboration or institutional knowledge.
Watson gets the majority of the blame in public, but many would have had serious issues getting a win out of this year's erratic squad as a new generation begins to take a foothold. The real issue is how Team USA approaches the event as a whole.
To that end, it is quite simple to see why Europe continues to have the international event in a stranglehold. Until something dramatic changes, that grip will not loosen in the coming years, even as a new generation slowly seizes the spotlight.