If this was any indication, get the earplugs ready for the Ryder Cup at Bethpage Black in 2024.
It might have taken until the weekend for this PGA Championship to come into its own, but the New York fans were out in force and in boisterous spirits, making many players take notice for what they can expect when the biannual international matches between the United States and Europe commences here in five years.
“I can’t imagine what a Ryder Cup will be like around here,” Englishman Paul Casey said after Sunday’s final round. “I think it would be intimidating, no doubt. I think I said in an interview earlier this week, it’s like a 13th man for the U.S. team. Big advantage.”
There is a Ryder cup next year, when Steve Stricker is going to be the captain at Whistling Straits in his native Wisconsin. It then shifts to Rome for 2022, before returning to Bethpage. By then, there is one player who would seem the natural fit for the U.S. captaincy, and that would be the golf darling of the New York crowds — 48-year-old Phil Mickelson.
“I think Phil has a big impact being on home soil if he were to be a captain,” said Casey, who saw firsthand how much the fans in this area love Mickelson as the two played together in the final round, going out at 9:15 a.m. and still hearing cheers from the crowd throughout their walk.
“I talked to him. He’s trying to play. You can ask him, I don’t want to answer for him, but he said he’s not even thought about it, not once, which shows. I mean, he could play. He could be a playing captain. That’s good.”
That would really add fuel to the fire, as even a seemingly innocuous PGA Championship turned into a wild scene late Saturday and all day Sunday. And now the PGA of America already has experience setting the course up, so the governing body might be able to better control how it plays — meaning, it might play a little bit easier than it did this week, with the thick rough and tight fairways.
“I think the fans would like to see a few more birdies,” said Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy. “I would say that for match play, it should be a little more of a generous setup, I would think.”
Then there is the issue of the size of the golf course, not only with long holes, but long walks around massive bunkers, with some severe hills. With the possibility of playing five 18-hole matches in three days at the Ryder Cup, the physical task would be hugely demanding.
“It’s become more and more of a physical game the way the guys hit the golf ball, but walking around the golf course is a part of the game,” Casey said. “That probably answers my take on that. That’s a massive factor, as it should be at the Ryder Cup, fatigue and managing it. Around here it’s paramount. I couldn’t imagine playing 36 [holes], and I’m fit-ish.”
And doing that with the fans getting enthusiastically patriotic? Well, when McIlroy was asked what he thought the crowds would be like in 2024, he had a rather cheeky response.
“No comment,” he said with a smile.