"If we play like we did this week, the score will look the same over there in a couple years, and that's what we're here for"
The atmosphere was unusually jovial for a closing US Ryder Cup press conference. Gone were the solemn expressions and not-so-subtle declarations of blame that we’ve become accustomed to of late.
Nope, in 2021, the scene created by Steve Stricker and his 12-man team was the kind you’d expect after dishing out a record-breaking 19-9 beatdown.
Champagne and some form of “Lite” beer was doing the rounds, enticing out more than a few typically sheltered personalities.
One question in particular – “DJ, you being the oldest player on the team, do you think you have the stamina to out-party these guys?” – really lit up the room.
“Abso-effing-lutely… next question,” was Johnson’s exquisitely delivered riposte.
But it didn’t take long for conversation to turn to more serious matters.
It’s one thing to win at home with a star-studded roster but it’s something else entirely to repeat the feat on the road, and one American reporter was keen to explore that topic.
He asked: “We’ve been hearing about the new wave, and this is the biggest score in the European era of the Cup, but I want to know if you have a feeling that you have unfinished business; that you need to win over there?”
Xander Schauffele, fresh off his rookie outing probably wasn’t the man to answer and duly handed over to Jordan Spieth, who has now won and lost twice in this event.
“I feel I can speak to this losing twice over there and being part of the average age group,” Spieth began.
“I think that this is unfinished business. I think this was one of those first wins — we needed to win this one and I think it was a massive stepping stone for this team and the group that we have here that have really known each other since almost back to grade school to continue to try to work hard to be on these teams to go over there.
“It’s one thing to win it over here and it is a lot easier to do so and it is harder to win over there. If we play like we did this week, the score will look the same over there in a couple years, and that’s what we’re here for.”
Talk about throwing down the gauntlet. It remains to be seen whether this will be the catalyst for an era of American dominance or merely another indication that home advantage trumps all in the Ryder Cup.
Whatever happens, 2023 in Rome can’t come soon enough.