Patrick Reed won the Masters while American golfers dominated the top ten. Ralph Ellis looks at the implications for Europe's Ryder Cup ambitions...
I'm not sure Thomas Bjorn needed too much in the way of reminding how difficult it will be for Europe to regain the Ryder Cup - but if he did, he's got it.
For Europe's captain, a look at the final leader board from the Masters as Patrick Reed put on his Green Jacket will have been a chastening experience.
It wasn't just that Reed, whose record of losing only one of nine Ryder Cup matches has seen him dubbed 'Captain America', had so easily seen off the challenge of Rory McIlroy to win the first Major of the year.
It was the list of American golfers tucked up behind him, with an astonishing seven of the top ten (including ties) having the Stars and Stripes against their name.

Worries over McIlroy

Two years after the humbling 17-11 thrashing at Hazeltine, the biggest margin of an American victory since 1981, Bjorn must have shuddered at the way the big-name US players rose to the occasion.
America are currently 1.92 favourites to win the Cup in Europe for the first time since 1993 when Tom Watson's side took seven and a half points from the final day singles at The Belfry. On the basis of what we've seen unfold in Augusta that looks, sadly, a very good bet.
Spaniard Jon Rahm earned some credit for his final day performance to reach fourth place, and Henrik Stenson sat alongside McIlroy tied fifth, but the rest of the European stars crumbled under pressure and Bjorn, who had been saying on his 'captain's blog' how strong his team looked, must have been horrified by the way things unfolded.
Most of all McIlroy, the player he would hope would be his talisman at Le Golf National in Paris come September, once again crumbled under pressure.
I found it strange to watch. Having laid him heavily the financial part of my brain was happy to see the wayward drives and tentative putts, but the romantic in me would have loved to see him complete his career Grand Slam.

Woods and Mickelson could be a pair

Instead whenever he closed the gap on Reed in the first few holes he immediately allowed the American to get away again, and then he stumbled completely through the back nine.
And while it seems hard to criticise anybody who finishes tied fifth at Augusta, it simply emphasised once more that Rory's problems are in his mind. When he wants it too much, he tries too hard and the gremlins begin to sneak in.
There was plenty more to make America's Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk happy. Jordan Spieth produced a dazzling final round, while Rickie Fowler emerged as the one man capable of putting pressure on Reed.
You also had to admire the courage of Tony Finau, who having dislocated his ankle on the eve of the tournament, somehow got through all four days to finish tied tenth alongside world number one Dustin Johnson.
There was also the sight of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson chatting happily together. They might not have enjoyed such a successful few days, but if both remain in form and are on the team in September they might yet be a dangerous pairing.
Of course there's a long way to go between now and September, and time for Europe's stars to regroup. But if the Masters is anything to go by, America are one-up already and Bjorn must be a worried man.

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