Will experience trump the US rookies at Ryder Cup?
The United States has infamously lost seven of the last nine Ryder Cups, and with six rookies in their line up, as well as a course set up perfectly to their strengths on home soil at Whistling Straits, a lot will be expected of Team USA once play gets underway later this week.
This is the 43rd playing of the Ryder Cup, which was originally scheduled for 2020 but was delayed by a year due to the pandemic.
A lot a fanfare is associated with the Ryder Cup. Match play on arguably one of the world’s best layouts which hugs Lake Michigan and can be stretched to over 7000 metres if required.
Despite losing to the Europeans seven times in the last nine meetings, the United States still remain the favourites. Team USA, led by captain Steve Stricker, look very strong this year with nine of the top-11 players in the world including Open champion Collin Morikawa, the big-hitting Bryson DeChambeau and Fedex Cup winner Patrick Cantlay making up part of the team.
The Ryder Cup (Credit: PGA of America)
The shift toward a younger USA team, including six rookies, was evident when Captain Steve Stricker announced his six selections including Harris English, who will be making his debut at age 32.
This year’s team has combined to play in only 12 prior Ryder Cups, making it the most inexperienced USA side since 1997 at Valderrama. Only three players (Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka) have played in more than one previous Ryder Cup.
The lowest ranked American player is Scottie Scheffler at No. 21. On the other hand, besides No. 1-ranked Jon Rahm, the highest-ranked European player is Viktor Hovland at No. 13. Rory McIlroy is at No. 15.
But, the Ryder Cup is all about the team, not the individual. Having said that, many a thrilling moment has come from the final day individual matches to determine an outcome.
Europe brings a strong team with a depth of experience that far outweighs the Americans.
Rory McIlroy has played in 24 of 25 possible matches over the course of his Ryder Cup career. He can match Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau’s length off the tee and is a passionate team player.
Paul Casey all year has shown great form and has a winning Ryder Cup record at 4-3-5 over the course of his career. Only Jon Rahm has been better statistically over the last three months.
Rahm is the best player in the world and continues to show brilliant form. It’s his second Ryder Cup and considerable weight will be on his shoulders to carry team Europe to the desired 14 points. Same can be said about Lee Westwood; a Ryder Cup legend who brings considerable experience to the team along with Sergio Garcia.
Arguably the player to follow in team Europe will be Ian Poulter, known as the “The Postman” as he always delivers.
Poulter’s overall record is 14-6-2 (2-3-2 in his last two appearances), and he’s undefeated in singles (5-0-1). Among those he has beaten on Sunday in the singles matches are Dustin Johnson in 2018, current USA captain Steve Stricker (2008) and Matt Kuchar (2010).
The Englishman has lost just six of his 22 matches to rightfully earn the nickname “Mr Ryder Cup”.
The Ryder Cup will tee off at Whistling Straits on September 24 and will be available to watch in Australia on FoxSports and Kayo.