An Early Look At The 2021 Ryder Cup

The 43rd Ryder Cup, officially known as the 2020 version after its postponement from last year due to Covid-19, will be played September 24th to 26th at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin. The competition pits teams of 12 players from the United States and Europe in a combination of two-player team and individual match-play formats.

Europe regained the Cup in 2018, soundly defeating a tired United States team 17 ½ to 10 ½ in Paris, a week following the Tour Championship and Tiger Woods’ thrilling return to the winners circle on U.S. soil. Most of the American team had competed in all or most of the four playoff events, while less than half of the European squad made the Tour Championship.

The United States team is complete following captain Steve Stricker’s announcement of his six picks…

The Team

The United States team is complete following captain Steve Stricker’s announcement of his six picks to add to the six players who had qualified through what turned out to be a three-year accumulation of points. Open Championship titlist Collin Morikawa led the point standings, followed by Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, and FedEx Cup winner Patrick Cantlay.

Stricker filled out the roster with five of the next six players in the standings: Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth, Harris English, and Daniel Berger. Instead of 11th place and Ryder Cup veteran Patrick Reed, Stricker opted for Scottie Scheffler, who finished 14th but whose points had mostly come in the last 18 months.

So far, there are five Europeans guaranteed spots on the team that’s determined by a more complicated system due to the fact that its players spend time on the European and PGA Tours. Jon Rahm, Tommy Fleetwood, Rory McIlroy, Paul Casey, and Viktor Hovland have qualified based on their World and European points standing.

Four more will automatically qualify following the upcoming BMW PGA Championship which concludes September 12th, after which captain Padraig Harrington will complete the team with three additional picks. The leading candidates for qualification include Tyrell Hatton, Bernd Weisberger, Matt Fitzpatrick, Victor Perez, Robert MacIntyre, and Guido Migilozzi.

Regardless of where they finish in the standings, it’s likely that Harrington will pick former Ryder Cup teammates Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, both of whom bring a wealth of experience and success to the competition. That will really only leave a single player who he will need to choose from a number of worthy candidates.

Early Ryder Cup Preview

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The last time the Ryder Cup was contested in the United States, a powerful team captained by Davis Love III dusted the Europeans 17 – 11 at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota for their first victory since 2008. Whistling Straits is a three-time host of the PGA Championship and requires length off the tee and precision around the greens.

Although the European team has yet to be filled out, the Americans appear to have a big advantage, not just in where its players are in the world rankings, but also because of how they are performing. Outside of Rahm, Hovland, and McIlroy, they haven’t had a lot of recent success, while three different Americans have captured the Open Championship, the Olympic Gold Medal, and the FedEx Cup.

It’s clear from his choice of Scottie Scheffler that he is hoping the chemistry of the two former Texas Longhorns will translate to success at Whistling Straits. At first glance, it would appear the United States team will be favored heading into the event, despite Rahm’s presence for the Europeans.

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