It has been a long three years since we witnessed joyous European scenes on the 18th green of Le Golf National after Europe had wrestled back the Ryder Cup from America following a convincing 17.5 – 10.5 victory.
In what was previously a competition dominated by America, the tide has definitely turned blue with Europe winning four of the last five editions. Astonishingly America has only won the event twice this century.
Like most Ryder Cups, America will start as heavy favourites and world ranking wise they absolutely dominate their European counterparts. However, Europe often enters the competition as underdogs and it’s clearly a position they relish.
America is the favourite at -200 with Europe at +200 and on paper, you can’t argue with the prices.
America’s twelve golfers are all ranked inside the World’s top 21, whereas Europe is a little more scattered, they have the world’s best golfer in Jon Rahm but will have the events highest-ranked player in Austrian Bernd Wiesberger who comes into the event ranked 63 in the world.
The makeup of the teams for this year’s event is fascinating with the European team on average being five years older than their American counterparts. The American team is comprised of six rookies (half the team) whereas the Europeans will only house three. Where America have the ultimate advantage is the crowd. Due to Covid restrictions, there is set to be very few Europeans in attendance which will make it a very difficult proposition and ensure that the competition is played in an intimidating atmosphere.
The 43rd Ryder Cup will be played at Whistling Straits which will provide one of the most stunning backdrops the competition would have ever seen. Measuring at close to 8,000 yards, Whistling Straits is a beast that looks perfectly set up for the Americans. Situated on the shores of Lake Michigan it’s a course that has hosted three majors and is a course that most of the Europeans will be familiar with.
Winning as the visiting team in Ryder Cups is becoming an increasingly difficult thing to do. The European team have only won on American soil sparingly with the three most recent wins coming in 1995, 2004 and memorably 2012. For the Americans, they last won in Europe back in 1993.
If you rewind back to 2018, the course at Le Golf National was perfectly set up for Europe. Narrow fairways, thick rough and the cold September conditions really took the Americans key strength of length and power away, the American big guns couldn’t simply bomb it up the fairway and to be honest, looked like they didn’t have a clue as to how to play the course all week.
The course this week couldn’t be any more different.
It will play long and it will play nasty, it should be perfectly set up for the American team and its power. The one unknown factor will be the wind, being situated so close to the shores of Lake Michigan could mean the wind could play a key factor. Europe and their fans will be swapping their rain dances for wind alternatives. If the wind arrives it could be the great leveller that the Europeans will need.
For full disclosure purposes, despite the Dallas Cowboys hat in my picture, I am writing from the other side of the pond and will be proudly sporting my European blue this weekend. However hard I try, I can’t see Europe winning this edition of the Ryder Cup. Playing on a course that won’t favour them, playing in front of a dominant and loud home crowd and knowing how hard it is to win away from home are all reasons why I think America will win and win fairly convincingly.
Jon Rahm aside, none of Europe’s golfers head to Whistling Straits in great form. McIlroy and Garcia qualified for the season-ending Tour Championship but haven’t been pulling up any trees, Viktor Hovland has been very hot and cold, Tyrell Hatton has had a quiet year, as has Tommy Fleetwood. Ian Poulter has been quietly consistent this year but he will have a giant target on his back and will be a scalp the Americans will be desperate to claim.
Despite my pessimism, there are a few glimmers of hope I am clinging to. The first is an important one, despite the ever-growing popularity of the Ryder Cup its standing amongst the American team is potentially waning.
The Ryder Cup is a big priority for Europe, its players and the whole European Tour. European big guns Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia have all expressed how special the Ryder Cup is and will continue to be. For the Americans, it’s majors that drive them and the Ryder Cup and a team environment is something they have struggled with. Heading into the week, Bryson DeChambeau is already gearing up for a long drive contest that will be held just after the Ryder Cups conclusion, Brooks Koepka in a recent interview has stated how weird he finds the concept of the Ryder Cup.
Then there is of course the Brooks Bryson rift which will need to be delicately handled by captain Stricker. Dustin Johnson has a patchy record and Tony Finau, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas will need to quickly embrace the role of team veterans. America with its influx of rookies, won’t have any of the previous scars that the team would have assembled in defeats in 2012, 2014 and 2018, but as so many have stated in the past, the Ryder Cup provides its own unique pressures and takes some time to get used too. The success of America will greatly depend on how their rookies settle.
Everything is geared up for an action-packed and great weekend. The Ryder Cup is one of the worlds most iconic sporting events. After three long years, the wait is almost over and the teams are ready for battle. Whether it’s red or blue it will be historic and memorable.
Stay across BeerLife Sports as we will be covering all of the twists and turns providing you with tips and bets as the weekend rolls on.
Until then there is only one thing left to say – COME ON TEAM EUROPE! [Editor’s Note: British writers!]