Analysing Team Europe at The Ryder Cup
It appears that Europe are underdogs for every Ryder Cup in contemporary times, but it is especially true for the 43rd edition.
America can boast that nine of their team are currently ranked in the world’s top 11 players and they also have a plethora of major winning golfers within their ranks.
One advantage that the Europeans continuously hold over their American rivals is the spirit of teamwork and working together for the benefit of the collective - something that epitomises what the Ryder Cup is truly about.
As long as the team spirit remains high, then Europe will always contend at the biennial cup.
Below, we take an in-depth look at Europe’s Ryder Cup team and how they have performed across the season while also predicting their involvement within this year’s competition.
Season Top 10s: 8 (1 victory)
Scoring Average: 70.176 (26th)
Ryder Cup Record: 4-3-5
This will be the fifth time that Paul Casey has been asked to represent Europe in the Ryder Cup - spanning across 17 years. The Englishman has a solid record in the team-based event but after such an impressive start to the calendar year, performances have tailed off. His sole win of the season, the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, happened at the end of January and despite securing seven top tens on the PGA Tour, he failed to convert any into a second win of the season. However, after contending in strong fielded tournaments such as: PGA Championship (T4), WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational (T5) and The Players Championship (T5) it is evident that Casey still understands when to turn it on. A veteran of the European team, his ball-striking and creative thinking will surely see him feature often for Padraig Harrington’s blues.
Season Top 10s: 5
SG Off-The-Tee: .539 (15th)
Ryder Cup Record: 0-2-0
While Matt Fitzpatrick endured a tricky debut in 2016, he has since grown significantly not only as a player but a person too. Accumulating four European Tour wins since then, including two World Tour Championships, seems to have matured Fitzpatrick and his exploits early into the PGA Tour season would support that argument. He secured top ten finishes in the RBC Heritage, The Genesis Invitational and The Players Championship, all worthy tournaments that typically see a strong field present. While his form may have dipped towards the backend of the season, a spirited display at Wentworth resulted in a tie for 20th and enabled him to secure automatic qualification for this Ryder Cup. He may have only appeared twice in 2016, but he could easily play a bigger part at Whistling Straits. A fantastic personality to have in your locker room, Fitzpatrick will be hoping for elevation as opposed to devastation.
Season Top 10s: 4
SG Around-The-Green: .292 (22nd)
Ryder Cup Record: 4-1-0
When Tommy Fleetwood broke into professional golf, he quickly became a firm favourite for all golf fans - either side of the Atlantic! Fleetwood’s loveable personality is what makes the Englishman so likeable, but he also has a mean streak out on the course. While this may not have been his best season, he has still earned his way into the Ryder Cup team. The only two times he breached the top ten in America this season was the WGC-Match Play and the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Away from that and surprisingly, Fleetwood has been fairly anonymous. Finishing T2 at the Italian Open will instil much needed confidence but considering how his first Ryder Cup appearance took shape, Padraig Harrington must be struggling to contain his excitement about unleashing the secret weapon that is Fleetwood. However, how will he cope without his partner in crime, Francesco Molinari?
Season Top 10s: 5 (1 victory)
SG Off-The-Tee: .796 (3rd)
Ryder Cup Record: 22-12-7
Sergio Garcia needs no introduction and the 2018 edition of the Ryder Cup was a memorable one for the Spaniard, as he became the highest individual point scorer in the competition’s history. Moreover, Garcia has secured 25.5 points in his Ryder Cup career whilst the entirety of the American team have obtained the same amount: that’s how prominent Garcia has been in this iconic tournament and we expect him to nab a few more points before the weekend is over. He tasted victory at the Sanderson Farms Championship back in October 2020 but with the Ryder Cup looming, his last win would have come nearly a year ago. Still, what he has lacked in recent victories he certainly makes up for in Ryder Cup points! A true talisman and impossible to leave out, Garcia will be on the hunt to extend his record dramatically.
Season Top 10s: 6 (1 victory)
SG: Approach-The-Green: .651 (13th)
Ryder Cup Record: 1-2-0
Tyrell Hatton enjoyed a breakthrough season last year on the PGA Tour, securing the Arnold Palmer Invitational and besting players such as Marc Leishman and Rory McIlroy along the way. Although more success in America is still yet to follow, he did secure four top tens on the PGA Tour this season. The Englishman has been crowned champion on the European Tour on six occasions, including this season’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Having made his Ryder Cup debut in 2018, he secured his first official point partnering Paul Casey in the Saturday morning fourball format. Since the competition in Paris, Hatton has won the Turkish Airlines Open, BMW PGA Championship, Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Abu Dhabi Championship. Having earned his way through qualification, Hatton is no longer a rookie and he will be expecting to secure a few points for a European team that revolve around experience.
Season Top 10s: 9 (2 victories)
Birdie Average: 4.40 (6th)
Ryder Cup Record: N/A
There is no denying that Viktor Hovland possesses generational talent, having become the first Norwegian to ever win on the PGA Tour back in 2020. It only took him ten months to secure his second title, beating Aaron Wise to the Mayakoba Golf Classic. Hovland is a classy player who once held the record for the most consecutive rounds on the PGA Tour in the 60s with 19! Having triumphed at the BMW International Open in June, he can reflect on this season as being unlucky having finished T3 on two occasions and T2 once. The Tour Championship at East Lake was a splendid performance, finishing T5 and proving to the world that he is not here to make up the numbers. Considering this is an away Ryder Cup and the team around him have a plethora of experience, it’s difficult to determine how much of a role he’ll play at Whistling Straits. However, after sharpening up his short game, there won’t be a single American who would fancy him in the singles.
Season Top 10s: 4
SG Tee-To-Green: .987 (19th)
Ryder Cup Record: N/A
While Shane Lowry has always exhibited his sensational golfing ability, the 2019 Open Championship victory propelled him into ultimate stardom. His performance at Royal Portrush was so impressive and coincidentally, he beat teammate for the week Fleetwood in the process! Interestingly, that was the last time that Lowry has tasted victory but he has come close to replicating that winning feeling on more than one occasion. This season, the Irishman had finished T4 at the PGA Championship, T6 at the Memorial Tournament and 8th at The Players Championship. All three of those tournaments are valued highly by the better players on Tour and Lowry has proved time and time again that he can and will compete with the very best. His inclusion in this year’s Ryder Cup will undoubtedly be a milestone for himself but don’t expect to see a typical rookie’s performance; Lowry is a special talent who has the ability to tip the scales into Europe’s favour.
Season Top 10s: 8 (1 victory)
Birdie Average: 4.51 (1st)
Ryder Cup Record: 11-9-4
A difficult season to summarise for Rory McIlroy but I’m sure he’d be happy how it concluded. The Northern Irishman really struggled at the start of the calendar year but the introduction of Pete Cowen as swing coach has seemingly brought the best out of the four-time major champion. Victory at the Wells Fargo Championship had earned him his first win since 2019 and the success came as a shock to everyone - having missed the Masters cut only a few weeks prior. McIlroy is only one really good Ryder Cup away from holding an impressive record and with the emotion he has demonstrated during previous editions, he may be the main man for Europe. Expect him to be called upon relentlessly and for him to hopefully lead this European side to victory on American soil for only the fifth time in history.
Season Top 10s: 4
SG Putting: .695 (3rd)
Ryder Cup Record: 14-6-2
There aren’t many players that, when they finish their career and reflect on the most important aspect, the Ryder Cup would be the answer. Typically, golf is an individual sport that generates individual success. The Ryder Cup is obviously vastly different and some players take to it, others don’t. Ian Poulter doesn’t solely take to it, he bases his entire career around it - the nickname of the postman has never been so fitting. Poulter is an unbelievably good putter and an extraordinary match play performer. When you combine the two, considering putting is so crucial in match play, you effectively get Poulter. A relentless weapon of the Europeans for many years who will be making his seventh appearance for the boys in blue. The Englishman may have only obtained one win since 2012, but he was born for this competition and this competition was made for him!
Season Top 10s: 15 (1 victory)
Scoring Average: 69.300 (1st)
Ryder Cup Record: 1-2-0
Jon Rahm is undoubtedly Europe’s greatest hope of winning the Ryder Cup. While the American team may be ranked significantly higher than the European's, only one team have the number one ranked golfer in the world! Rahm has been magnificent for an elongated period of time and away from a slight wobble that saw him miss the cut at the opening PGA Tour event of the season, he’s quite comfortably been the best golfer on earth across the last six months. While he may have only secured one victory - his maiden major, the 2021 U.S. Open - he has placed in the top ten on 15 occasions this season - more than any other golfer! Having made his debut in 2018, Rahm is no longer a rookie. While Rahm did not contribute too much in Paris, if he is called upon often in Wisconsin, then expect an absolute ‘Rahmpage’ of Spanish brilliance.
Season Top 10s: 4 (1 victory)
Greens in Regulation: 71.79% (European Tour, 19th)
Ryder Cup Record: N/A
Bernd Wiesberger is probably the surprise in this Ryder Cup team, but his efforts across the last 12 months has earned him a spot. The 35-year-old becomes the first ever Austrian to feature at a Ryder Cup and with eight European Tour wins to his name, he certainly knows his game. Wiesberger was effectively included in the squad at the expense of Justin Rose, but Harrington had publicly noted that if he required a pick, he would always have been favoured over the aforementioned Englishman. He had secured victory at the Made in HimmerLand competition back in May before finishing runner-up at the Omega European Masters in September. Harrington has not disclosed whether he wants all 12 players to experience the course before the Sunday singles, which results in us not knowing how much Wiesberger will feature. However, 12 professional wins and the uncertainty around another appearance will give the Austrian all the inspiration he needs.
Season Top 10s: 2
Driving Accuracy Percentage: 62.93% (73rd)
Ryder Cup Record: 20-18-6
Lee Westwood was simply magnificent during the month of March on the PGA Tour. Having battled his way to a runner-up finish at Bay Hill, he would emulate the same result the following week at TPC Sawgrass during The Players Championship. With the Masters only a few weeks after, many tipped the Englishman to secure his maiden major title but unfortunately, he just didn’t have the game he exhibited only a few weeks prior. His involvement at Whistling Straits will match Sir Nick Faldo’s record of 11 appearances and Westwood actually featured in ten consecutive cups before being omitted from the 2018 team. At the age of 48, the future is unclear for the Englishman. However, if he can continue to deliver like he did in Florida during March, then maybe Faldo’s record could be in danger of being broken in a few years’ time.
It is evident that Europe have a talented squad but it is their willingness to work for one another that may give them the greatest edge.
Additionally, read Analysing Team USA at The Ryder Cup.
As long as spirits stay high within the group, Europe will never truly be out of the Ryder Cup and a few early points during Friday morning could test the mettle and the relationships between America’s elite.
The Ryder Cup is unlike any other tournament in golf and the atmosphere is something that every golf fan should experience. The experts at Golfbreaks.com can help with all aspects of your Ryder Cup experience, from accommodation and ticket packages to hospitality and travel and playing some of the fantastic nearby courses.
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