Hello My Old Friend, The Return Of The Ryder Cup
By Jim McNaney
One of the most anticipated events on the golf calendar, The Ryder Cup, is right around the corner. The extra year due to COVID-19 has done nothing but ramp up the excitement.
Now that all the captain’s picks are in and the teams are set, here is your guide to the bi-annual party.
Whistling Straits in Sheboygan, Wisconsin plays host this year. Nestled along the shores of Lake Michigan, the Straits Course has a history of challenging the best players in the word having played host to the 2004, 2010 and 2015 PGA Championships as well as the 2007 U.S. Senior Open.
While the U.S. team will have home-field advantage, the rustic, links-style layout will make the Europeans feel a bit more at home.
With five rookies and only four veterans with winning Ryder Cup records, this U.S. team has a brand-new look and feel. Armed with six captain’s picks, the first-year Captain Steve Stricker certainly put his own stamp on this team. After the drubbing in Paris three years ago, Stricker is looking to bring in a new attitude and, hopefully, a better result.
A 12-time winner on the PGA TOUR, Steve Stricker has made three appearances for the U.S. in the Ryder Cup. U.S. Captain Jim Furyk has also picked Stricker as a vice-captain for 2018. Stricker’s first Ryder Cup start came in 2008 at Valhalla, which also happened to be the last time the Americans won the biennial matches until 2016 at Hazeltine.
Daniel Berger (Rookie)
Patrick Cantlay (Rookie)
Bryson DeChambeau (0-3-0)
Making his second Ryder Cup appearance, DeChambeau hopes for a better showing than his zero-point performance in Paris.
Harris English (Rookie)
Tony Finau (2-1-0)
Finau was one of the few bright spots for the U.S. team in 2018. His distance off the tee should help provide an advantage around The Straights Course.
Dustin Johnson (7-9-0)
In 2016, Johnson was 2-2-0 at Hazeltine in his first Ryder Cup since 2012. He and teammate Matt Kuchar were the anchor match in the first session foursomes on Friday and collected an easy 5&4 win over Lee Westwood and Thomas Pieters. That helped the U.S. to its first 4-0 opening-session sweep since the 1975 Arnold Palmer-led American team did the same.
Brooks Koepka (4-3-1)
He was an impressive 3-1-0 in his Ryder Cup debut at Hazeltine in 2016. In 2018, Koepka was involved in a reported altercation with fellow teammate Dustin Johnson after the event. Captain Stricker is hoping a healthy Koepka can put that behind him and play to the dominant level he has shown.
Colin Morikowa (Rookie)
Zander Schauffeule (Rookie)
Justin Thomas (4-1-0)
Thomas is poised to make his second Ryder Cup start after his impressive Rookie start in 2018 at Le Golf National. Look for Thomas to take a lead role in the team room.
Scottie Scheffler (Rookie)
Jordan Spieth (7-5-2)
Much was expected of Spieth at Hazeltine in 2016 and much was delivered. Spieth joined Patrick Reed – who he paired with in all four team matches – as the only Americans to compete in all five sessions. Spieth went 2-2-1 over that stretch and was questionable for his Sunday singles match against Henrik Stenson, as some fingers were bothering him from an aggressive high-five Reed gave him the day before. Spieth, who figures to be a team leader for years to come, tasted Ryder Cup triumph for the first time in just his second start.
A veteran laden Team Europe, with only three rookies, hopes to retain the Cup on American soil like they did in 2016 at Medinah. Padraig Harrington brings a touch more of Ireland to the already prominent Irish feeling of Whistling Straights. Naming Poulter as a captain’s pick was a no-brainer for Captain Harrington.
Three-time Major winner Pádraig Harrington will Captain Europe at the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits. He made his Ryder Cup debut in 1999 at the “Battle of Brookline,” with his last coming at a weather affected week in 2010 at Celtic Manor. Four appearances in between, picking up 10 ½ points for Europe and being a Vice Captain on three occasions, Harrington has plenty of experience to offer his European side.
Paul Casey (4-3-5)
Matt Fitzpatrick (0-2-0)
Tommy Fleetwood (4-1-0)
Sergio Garcia (22-12-7)
A veteran of nine Ryder Cups, the Spaniard became Europe’s all-time leading points scorer with 25.5 points at the 2018 Ryder Cup. He was unbeaten over the first two days at The K Club in 2006 and in the process became only the second player after Ian Woosnam to win all four points from his foursomes and fourball matches.
Terrell Hatten (1-2-0)
Viktor Hovland (Rookie)
Shane Lowry (Rookie)
Rory McIlroy (11-9-4)
The four-time Major Champion heads to Whistling Straits with four Ryder Cup wins already under his belt, and he will be looking to add a fifth after being part of the European team who beat the United States at Le Golf National three years ago. Since his debut in 2010, McIlroy has evolved into one of his continent’s most experienced and accomplished Ryder Cup players. Overall, the Northern Irishman has played in 24 matches, winning 11, halving four and losing nine.
Ian Poulter (14-6-2)
Ian Poulter – nicknamed the Postman because he always delivers at the Ryder Cup – is a veteran of the event and came as no surprise when he was picked for the 2021 Ryder Cup thanks to the Englishman’s impressive performances across his six appearances.
John Rahm (1-2-0)
Rahm underperformed three years ago for the Europeans in Paris. This time around the number one player in the world rankings looks to show that he is ready for the team pressure of a Ryder Cup. Look for Rahm to be a leader in the locker room.
Bernd Wiesberger (Rookie)
Lee Westwood (20-18-6)
Lee Westwood has featured on an impressive ten consecutive European Ryder Cup teams, seven of which he was on the winning side, and will tie Sir Nick Faldo’s appearance record when he makes his 11th start at Whistling Straits. Only Faldo (46) has bettered Westwood (44) in terms of matches played, in which he has picked up 23 points. To add, the Englishman also enjoyed unbeaten records on two occasions at Oakland Hills (2004) and the K Club (2006).
How To Watch
While attending a Ryder Cup is one of the greatest experiences for any golf fan, most of us will watch via our televisions. With the expansion of internet viewing, multiple options are available to catch the action.
Here is the TV Schedule (courtesy of www.rydercup.com)
(All Times are Central Time)
Friday, September 24th. (7:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.) GOLF
Saturday, September 25th. (7:30 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.) GOLF
Saturday, September 25th. (8 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.) NBC
Sunday, September 26th. (11 a.m. – 5: p.m.) NBC
LIVE STREAMS: RyderCup.com and mobile apps will stream featured matches and tee shots from the first tee on the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the competition.
*Editor’s note: Portions of the Captains and Players bios and TV times provided by www.rydercup.com.