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Meet The Ryder Cup Teams

By: | Mon 20 Sep 2021 | Comments


THE talking is almost over. The teams have been finalised and now we can look forward to three days of thrilling action at Whistling Straits.

Steve Stricker’s American side will go into the match as favourites. Nine of their players are ranked in the top 11 in the world and their lowest-ranked player is Scottie Scheffler at 21. Their oldest player is Dustin Johnson, who is 37. Europe have four men in their 40s - Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood. And that will be a factor if any of them are asked to play in all five sessions over the course of three days on what is a long and demanding golf course.

The Europeans have won seven majors between them, with Rory McIlroy claiming four of those. The American team have won 13 and have the current Open champion, Collin Morikawa. But there was no place in the side for PGA champion Phil Mickelson.

On the other hand, the Americans have six rookies and their players have made just 12 Ryder Cup appearances between them. The Europeans have just three rookies and can boast 38 appearances, with Lee Westwood playing in his 11th match. And in Sergio Garcia they have the record points scorer.

Here’s how the teams line up.

EUROPE

Jon Rahm

Age: 26

World Ranking:  1

Appearances: One (2018)

Record - Played 3 Won 1 Lost 2 Halved 0

Rahm lost his first two matches on his debut in 2018 when partnering Justin Rose and then Ian Poulter in fourballs, only to defeat Tiger Woods 3&2 in the Sunday singles and help Europe to victory. The 26-year-old Spaniard is a far more experienced player now, having won the 2019 Race to Dubai and going on to accumulate 13 victories as a professional. The latest of those saw Rahm claim his first major victory at this year's US Open and, after finishing in the top 10 in all four majors this year, he spearheads the European team as world No 1.

Tommy Fleetwood

Tommy Fleetwood

Age: 30

World Ranking:  36

Appearances - One (2018)

Record - Played 5 Won 4 Lost 1 Halved 0 

Fleetwood formed a record-breaking partnership with Francesco Molinari during his debut in Europe's 2018 success, becoming the first European pairing to win all four matches together. The Englishman was then despatched 6&4 by Tony Finau on the final day - one of just four European defeats on Sunday - although the loss had little impact on the result. The 30-year-old has won five times on the European Tour but has yet to win in the United States, and he has slipped down the world rankings after a victory drought which dates back to the Nedbank Golf Challenge in November 2019. He has shown signs of a return to form in recent weeks, though, and finished tied for second at the Italian Open earlier this month.

Tyrrell Hatton

Tyrrell Hatton

Age: 29

World Ranking:  19

Appearances - One (2018)

Record - Played 3 Won 1 Lost 2 Halved 0

Hatton was twice paired with Paul Casey in the fourballs in 2018, losing 1up to the strong US pair of Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth before they claimed an impressive 3&2 victory over Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler. He then went down 3&2 to 'Captain America' Patrick Reed in the singles.

The 29-year-old Englishman has six European Tour victories to his name and also claimed his maiden PGA Tour victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last year. He has, however, missed the cut in four of his last six appearances, including his defence of the BMW PGA Championship title.

Rory McIlroy

Age: 32

World Ranking: 15

Appearances - Five (2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018)

Record - Played 24 Won 11 Lost 9 Halved 4

The Northern Irishman has been ever-present in the European side since making his debut in Europe's 2010 victory. He teamed up with Poulter to claim a vital point in the Saturday fourballs at Medinah, ensuring Europe would only go into that history-making final day 10-6 behind, with McIlroy then recovering from nearly missing his tee time to beat Keegan Bradley in the singles. McIlroy registered 2.5 points in 2014 before winning three matches alongside Thomas Pieters at Hazeltine two years later, where he was narrowly beaten in an epic tussle against Reed on the final day. The 32-year-old returned victories when partnering Poulter and then Sergio Garcia in 2018, with McIlroy featuring in every session in each of the last four Ryder Cups. He ended his victory drought by winning the Wells Fargo Championship in May, but his wait for a fifth major win, which dates back to 2014, continues and he has now dropped outside the top 10 in the world rankings.

Viktor Hovland

Age: 24

World Ranking: 13

Appearances - Debut

The 23-year-old Norwegian is making his debut but, after a fine amateur career, he has made his mark on the PGA Tour with two victories and has been inside the top 20 in the world rankings since last December. Hovland also tasted success on the European Tour this year at the BMW International Open in Germany in June which he followed by tying for 12th place at The Open, while he was also an encouraging joint-fourth at the Tour Championship earlier this month.

Paul Casey

Age: 44

World Ranking: 23 

Appearances - Four (2004, 2006, 2008, 2018)

Record - Played 12 Won 4 Lost 3 Halved 5

Casey made his debut in Europe's record-breaking victory at Oakland Hills in 2004 and was unbeaten in his four matches at The K Club in 2006, halving both sessions when partnering Robert Karlsson before firing a hole-in-one to seal victory with David Howell in the Saturday foursomes. The 44-year-old Englishman only made a half-point during the loss at Valhalla in 2008 and did not return to the European side for another decade, where he formed a winning partnership with Hatton in the fourballs before halving his match with Brooks Koepka on the final day in France. Casey has won three times on the PGA Tour and 15 times on the European Tour, the last of them coming at the Dubai Desert Classic in January. He has been in consistent form since then with a number of top-10 finishes, including at the PGA Championship and US Open.

Matt Fitzpatrick

Age: 27

World Ranking: 27 

Appearances - One (2016)

Record - Played 2 Won 0 Lost 2 Halved 0

Fitzpatrick was one of four players to fail to register a point in the 2016 defeat, his Ryder Cup debut, losing 3&2 alongside Henrik Stenson in the foursomes before being beaten 4&3 by Zach Johnson in the singles.

The 27-year-old Englishman has claimed six European Tour victories, the last of them coming at the DP World Tour Championship last December after which he started this year with several top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour, although his form had started to tail off before a decent performance at the BMW PGA Championship.

Lee Westwood

Lee Westwood

Age: 48

World Ranking: 34

Appearances - 10 (1997, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016)

Record - Played 44 Won 20 Lost 18 Halved 6

Westwood will equal Sir Nick Faldo's record for most Ryder Cup appearances for Team Europe when he features at Whistling Straits, having been part of Thomas Bjorn's backroom staff at Le Golf National. The Englishman will become the oldest player to play for Europe since Christy O'Connor Snr in 1973, when only players from Great Britain and Ireland competed against the USA. The 48-year-old formed winning partnerships with Faldo and Darren Clarke during the early part of his Ryder Cup career and then won three matches with Garcia in the 2002 contest, before going unbeaten in the next two Ryder Cups - including when he played alongside Clarke, who had tragically lost his wife a few weeks earlier, at The K Club. Westwood failed to register a win at Valhalla but collected 2.5 points in the narrow victory at Celtic Manor, while a 3&2 win over Matt Kuchar on the final day in 2012 pulled Europe back to 12-12 on their way to the 'Miracle at Medinah' win. He also partnered Victor Dubuisson to two points in 2014, although lost all three matches - as a wildcard pick - during the 2016 defeat. He has yet to win a major but has 25 European Tour victories to his name, the last coming in January 2020 at the Abu Dhabi Championship on his way to winning last year's Race to Dubai. He finished second at The Players Championship in March but is without a top-10 finish since then and struggled in the final round of the BMW PGA Championship as he just clung on to an automatic qualifying place.

Bernd Wiesberger

Age: 35

World Ranking:  61

Appearances - Debut

The 35-year-old will become the first Austrian to feature in the Ryder Cup after clinching his place at the BMW PGA Championship with a battling performance at Wentworth. Wiesberger has picked up eight European Tour victories, the last at the Made in HimmerLand in May before going close when finishing second at the European Masters last month. He has made 28 major appearances with a best finish of tied-15th at the 2014 PGA Championship.

Shane Lowry

Shane Lowry

Age: 34

World Ranking: 40

Appearances - Debut

The 34-year-old Irishman just failed to secure an automatic qualifying place at the BMW PGA Championship, but was quickly rewarded for his efforts with a captain's pick from Harrington.

Lowry has plenty of European Tour and PGA Tour experience and showed he is a man for the big occasion by winning The Open at Royal Portrush in 2019. He has not missed a cut since March and finished tied for fourth at the PGA Championship and joint-12th at The Open.

Sergio Garcia

Age: 41

World Ranking: 43 

Appearances - Nine (1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018)

Record - Played 41 Won 22 Lost 12 Halved 7

The 41-year-old Spaniard is another of Harrington's picks and he must have been impossible to ignore after he became Europe's all-time leading points scorer with 25.5 points in 2018 when he teamed up for victories alongside Alex Noren and McIlroy before defeating Fowler 2&1 in the singles. Garcia has scored at least two points on eight of his nine appearances and became only the sixth player to claim four-and-a-half points out of a possible five at Oakland Hills in 2004. In 2006 at The K Club he was unbeaten over the first two days to become only the second player after Ian Woosnam to win all four points from his foursomes and fourball matches. He claimed his only major victory at the 2017 Masters and picked up his 11th PGA Tour success at the Sanderson Farms Championship last October and had encouraging top-10 finishes in the last two FedExCup Playoff events.

Ian Poulter

Age: 45

World Ranking: 49

Appearances - Six (2004, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2018)

Record - Played 22 Won 14 Lost 6 Halved 2

Nicknamed 'The Postman' because he always delivers, Poulter's claims were also too hard to ignore for Harrington, having lost just six of his 22 matches and being undefeated in the singles. The 45-year-old Englishman won all four of his matches to inspire Europe to their miraculous comeback victory at Medinah in 2012, where in the Saturday fourball matches he and McIlroy were two down with six to play before Poulter made five consecutive birdies to earn a morale-boosting point.

TEAM USA

Collin Morikawa

Age: 24

World Ranking: 3

Debut

There are occasionally questions asked over a player making their Ryder Cup debut. How will he handle the pressure? The crowd? The occasion? But Morikawa has shown over the last year that a lack of previous experience can also count for little. He won on his debut appearances at both the 2020 PGA Championship and the 2021 Open Championship, and was the first player to qualify for Team USA. Asked about his preferred Ryder Cup playing partners, he chose Justin Thomas or Xander Schauffele: "Those guys have very similar games, they're very consistent. They're just guys you get along with. I think that's what a big part of it is about, not just matching up games. I've hung out with Xander, I've hung out with JT and I played a lot of golf with them. That just makes things a little easier by the time when you're put in a setting with 40,000 fans around you, hitting a first tee shot.”

Dustin Johnson

Dustin Johnson

Age: 37

World Ranking: 2

Appearances: Four (2010, 2012, 2016, 2018)

Record: Played 16 Won 7 Lost 9 Halved 0

Johnson has not had the best year of his career, winning only once on the European Tour and losing his place at the top of the world rankings. He has also had some struggles with his putter, but will provide a veteran presence on the team and should be a formidable opponent, particularly in singles, where his record is 3-1-0. He did have a winning Ryder Cup run until going 1-4-0 last time out in Paris.

Bryson DeChambeau

Age: 27

World Ranking: 7

Appearances: One (2018)

Record: Played 3 Won 0 Lost 3 Halved 0

In 2018, DeChambeau was one of four picks made by USA captain Jim Furyk, this year he was the third player to qualify automatically. He claimed his first major at the 2020 US Open and narrowly missed out on victory at the BMW Championship as he lost to Patrick Cantlay after a six-hole play-off. His long-running feud with team-mate Brooks Koepka could be something to keep an eye on, even if Stricker says the pair will put it aside for the week: "They assured me that the team and the country and everything else that goes into this is their top priority. They said it's not going to be an issue, and I believe them. I trust them. As far as I'm concerned, it's been put to bed." DeChambeau's only two Ryder Cups matches with partners have been with Mickelson and Woods.

Brooks Koepka

Brooks Koepka

Age: 31

World Ranking: 10

Appearances: Two (2017, 2019)

Record: Played 8 Won 4 Lost 3 Halved 1

Koepka has been one of the most consistent players on tour in recent years, particularly at the majors when he has 12 top-seven finishes in his last 16 appearances. He was an impressive 3-1-0 on his Ryder Cup debut at Hazeltine in 2016, but withdrew from the Tour Championship with a wrist injury, which seemed to occur when he hit a root. He played down the severity of the issue, saying: "Same wrist I had issues with back in '17, '18, so just making sure it's all good.”

Justin Thomas

Age: 28

World Ranking: 6

Appearances: One (2018)

Record: Played 5 Won 4 Lost 1 Halved 0

With just one victory to his name this season - at The Players in March - Thomas does not head into the Ryder Cup in peak form. However, he has shown that team events often bring out the best in him. On his Ryder Cup debut in Paris he went 4-1, and combined with the Presidents Cups in 2017 and 2019 he is 10-3-2. Expect to see him paired up with Jordan Speith after they went 3-1 together last time in the tournament.

Patrick Cantlay

Age: 29

World Ranking: 4

Debut

This might be Cantlay's Ryder Cup debut, but he is the in-form player heading to Whistling Straits. He has won four times on the PGA Tour this year - the first player to reach that number since Thomas in 2016/17 - and held off world No 1 Jon Rahm to win the season-ending Tour Championship. He has experience of the Presidents Cup - going 3-2 in 2019 - and his game should suit the course for the 43rd Ryder Cup.

Daniel Berger

Age: 28

World Ranking: 16

Debut

If there’s such a thing as a sneaky-good record over the past few months, Berger is the one who collected it. Those wondering if he was going to receive a pick weren’t doing their homework. Since May Berger has recorded five top-10 finishes. Before that he tied for ninth at The Players and won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He also ranks fifth in strokes gained: approach to the green and 11th in strokes gained: total.

Harris English

Age: 32

World Ranking: 11

Debut

English solidified his position with a stretch run this summer where he finished third, first and fourth in a four-event span. That one win came in a dramatic playoff in the Travelers Championship. English could be overlooked because he’s quiet and unassuming, but he deserves this opportunity. He finished the PGA Tour season ranked 12th in strokes gained: putting, which will make others want to partner with him even though it’s his first taste of the Ryder Cup.

Tony Finau

Age: 31

World Ranking: 9

Appearances: 2018

Record: Played 3 Won 2 Lost 1 Halved 0

Season at a glance: Finau vaulted up the U.S. standings late with a victory at The Northern Trust several weeks ago. The performance was nearly enough to earn him an automatic spot on the team, until Patrick Cantlay won the BMW Championship the following week. He played well three years ago in his rookie Ryder Cup appearance and his length off the tee should be a huge asset at a burly Whistling Straits.

Xander Schauffele

Age: 27

World Ranking: 5

Debut

Season at a glance: There was no way the Olympic gold medalist was going to be left off this team. This was Schauffele’s only victory this year, and it didn’t count toward Ryder Cup points, but he’s otherwise produced a stellar, consistent record with six top-10 finishes. He was ranked fourth in strokes gained: total and seventh on the PGA Tour this year in scoring average. Will likely partner with Patrick Cantlay.

Scottie Scheffler

Age: 25

World Ranking: 21

Debut

Season at a glance: Scheffler has played well all year and extremely well in stretches finishing fifth at the WGC-Workday Championship, second to Billy Horschel at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and third at the Memorial Tournament. Scheffler hits the ball miles, is 17th on Tour in strokes gained: off the tee and is seventh on Tour in birdie average, making 4.39 birdies per round. Safe money says this will not be his last Ryder Cup appearance.

Jordan Spieth

Jordan Spieth

Age: 28

World Ranking: 15

Appearances: 2014, 2016, 2018

Record: Played 14 Won 7 Lost 5 Halved 2

Season at a glance: Spieth’s resurgence is a massive bonus for Stricker and his overall winning record in the Ryder Cup makes him a go-to guy for the red, white and blue. We know he’ll partner with Justin Thomas quite often and while his putting may not be as good as it was several years ago, it’s still terrific and will serve him well during the week. Ranked sixth in strokes gained: around the green and aside from his victory at the Valero Texas Open he recorded nine top-10s this year.


Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography


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