2021 Ryder Cup Preview


Kevin McCarthy, Staff Writer

For many golf fans, there is one golf event that trumps all others. The 4 majors are fun to watch. The Players Championship and the season finale at East Lake are amazing. However, the Ryder Cup historically has taken the cake in terms of entertainment value. In this event, 12 American golfers face 12 European golfers. Both teams aspire to bring the Ryder Cup trophy back to their home countries. At the Ryder Cup, fans are extremely active and the players play with more emotion than usual. The players love this event and look forward to it all season. One American Ryder Cup golfer, Jordan Spieth said “I’d rather play better at the Ryder Cup than in the Tour Championship.” The golf begins September 24, at Whistling Straits. Millions of golf fans worldwide cannot wait. 

First, let’s start off with the US team. The captain, Steve Stricker, hopes to avenge the American team’s embarrassing defeat in 2018. The US team consists of 6 automatic qualifiers, Brooks Kopeka, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantly, Colin Morikawa, Bryson Dechambeau, and Justin Johnson, who all qualified based on how well they did during the PGA tour season. All 6 of these players are ranked top 10 in the world.

The team also consists of 6 captain’s picks. Prior to these picks coming out, the golf community engaged in much debate about who deserved the spot. Many people wanted match play magician Kevin Kisner to make the team, and others wanted Patrick Reed(AKA “Captain America”). The captain went in a different direction. He chose Jordan Speith, Tony Finau, Xander Shauffele, Daniel Berger, Scottie Scheffler, and Harris English. On paper these picks were the smartest. The 6 players are ranked high in the world rankings and have performed above average this year. However, in 2018, the captain took this same approach and the US team was crushed. Many pundits have criticized these picks as they wanted others such as Kevin Na and Kevin Kisner to receive captain picks. In my opinion, it would have been better for the team to include clutcher players over higher ranked players. They would have provided more clutch putting, which is a current weakness of the US team. 

Another factor for team USA is whether or not the team can get along. The team consists of 12 phenomenal players and compete with each other week in and week out to win tournaments. For example, just 3 weekends ago, Bryson Dechambeau and Patrick Cantlay competed in a 6 hole playoff in which tensions rose between the two players. Another huge factor for team USA is whether Brooks Koepka wants to play. He recently said in an interview with Golf Digest that the Ryder Cup week is a “bit odd.” He complained about how the Ryder Cup is a team sport, but the normal golf season is all individualized. If Koepka isn’t 100% committed to winning, the US team will be disappointed in the final results. The final and most publicized drama with the US team is the long feud between Bryson Dechambeau and Brooks Koepka. Their rivalry started in 2019 when Koepka complained about Dechambeau’s slow playing habits. Ever since then, the feud has gotten worse with each player publicly bashing the other. For the US team’s sake, these two players have to get along, because if they don’t, the US team will lose. 

As an American, I will root for team USA, but am nervous about the team’s chances of winning. 

Next we have the European team. Captained by Padraig Harrington, the team looks to retain the Ryder Cup trophy which they won in 2018. The team is headlined by John Rahm, the #1 player in the world. The team also has Rory McColry, Victor Hovland, and Tyrell Hatton who are all top 20 players in the world. The team is full of talent. 

With Harrington’s captains picks, he chose players who are experienced and have always been clutch in previous Ryder Cups. He chose Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, and Shane Lowry. These three picks were the smartest that Harrington could make. All three players have had previous success in Ryder Cups and are feared in match play. Captain Harrington has put his team in their best position to win. 

Who will win?

On paper, the US team should beat the European team handily. They have 10 out of the top 15 players in the world. They are also one of the most talented US teams ever. However, in 2018, the same circumstances surrounded the Cup. The US team was much more talented but they still lost. They didn’t just lose. They were crushed. The final score was 17.5-10.5. 

Nonetheless, this is not the 2018 Ryder Cup. This time, the Americans are playing at home and won’t face a hostile crowd. The US players who were crushed in 2018 have publicly talked about getting revenge this year. I hope that the US team finds a way to get along for the weekend. If the team gets along, the talent of the US team will overwhelm the Europeans and the Ryder Cup trophy won’t leave the US.