It’s officially Ryder Cup week, and I’m ecstatic. So happy that the typically biennial competition may have competed again after a one-year hiatus — and with thousands of delighted fans littering the gallery in all their patriotic glory. So enthused are two dozen of the world’s top players that they will compete fervently for the honor of representing their country and expressing their pride rather than the all-powerful cash.
Of course, Europe is the defending champion, having defeated the United States by a score of 17 ½ – 10 ½ on home soil three years ago, the latest victory in a string of successes that has seen Europe win four of the last five titles and seven of the previous nine. So let’s delve straight into each team and break down each player to give you a much better insight when it comes to placing those all-important bets. We will start with the defending champions Europe. (It’s worth noting that all data comes from the PGA Tour and does not include the European Tour).
Rory was a previous world number one in the Official World Golf Ranking, having held the position for over 100 weeks during his career. He is a four-time major champion, having won the U.S. Open in 2011, the PGA Championship in 2012, the Open Championship in 2014, and the PGA Championship in 2014. He is one of just three players, along with Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, to have won four majors by 25.
This Year – By McIlroy’s high standards, perhaps one win and seven top-ten finishes as an average kind of year. However, he has saved his best game for the big occasions, which is good news for the European fans. He finished eighth and then seventh at the U.S. Opens, fifth at the masters, fourth at the Olympics, and fourth in the BMW Championship recently. His sole success came midway through the season at the Wells far to Championship.
Ryder Cup History – The four-time Major Champion comes to Whistling Straits with four Ryder Cup victories under his belt, and he’ll be eager to add a fifth after helping Europe defeat the U.S. at Le Golf National three years ago. McIlroy has grown into one of his continent’s most experienced and accomplished Ryder Cup players since his debut in 2010. In total, the Northern Irishman has appeared in 24 matches, winning 11, drawing four, and losing nine, for a total of 13 points.
Was the World Amateur Golf Ranking’s number one golfer for a record 60 weeks. He later became the Official World Golf Ranking’s number one golfer after winning the Memorial Tournament in July 2020. In addition, Rahm became the first Spaniard to win the U.S. Open in June 2021.
This year – I’m my eyes Jon Rahm has been the best golfer this year. If he doesn’t withdraw from the Memorial when running away with it, he is the Tour Championship which would have backed up my opinion. Regardless, he is still the current world number one, and for a good reason. Last season he had a whopping 15 top ten finishes from 22 starts. This includes two third-placed finishes, two second-place finishes, and winning the U.S. Open.
Ryder Cup History – After automatically qualifying for Thomas Bjorn’s European team, Rahm made his Ryder Cup debut in Paris in 2018. Despite losing his first two matches by a hair, Rahm defeated Tiger Woods 2&1 in the Sunday Singles matches, ensuring that all players for Team Europe won at least one point throughout the three days. However, at Whistling Straits, a more experienced Rahm could be a European to be feared.
Paul Casey is an English golfer who competes on the PGA Tour in the United States. In 2009, he was ranked third in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time.
This Year – Casey has had a consistent year finishing inside the top ten on seven occasions. However, he will probably be slightly disappointed that he hasn’t gotten close to lifting a trophy as he has not finished inside the top three. However, like McIlroy, he has played the majors well, finishing inside the top seven on three occasions.
Ryder Cup History – Casey makes the team this year as an automatic qualifier via the World Points List, following a successful Ryder Cup as one of Thomas Bjorn’s Captain’s Picks in 2018. The Englishman represents Europe in the Ryder Cups of 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2018, going undefeated in nine of his 12 matches. In 2018, Casey bounced back from a first-round loss with rookie Tyrrell Hatton in the Friday fourball matches with a 3&2 triumph in the Saturday fourball matches with Hatton. He then went on to win a half point against Brooks Koepka, the World Number Three at the time.
His most significant accomplishment as an amateur was winning the 2013 U.S. Amateur Championship. In 2015, he won his first professional tournament, the British Masters.
This Year – Fitzpatrick has had a solid year by finishing inside the top ten in a quarter of his PGA Tour events. Captain Harrington will be slightly concerned with how he finished the season, but he knows that the 27-year-old has plenty of talent.
Ryder Cup History – After a spectacular two years in which he became the second-youngest Englishman to win two European Tour titles, he made his Ryder Cup debut in 2016 at Hazeltine (21 years, 278 days). Although he has Ryder Cup experience, which, as we know, is a big plus, he is yet to claim a win.
On the European Tour, he has won six times, including four Rolex Series events. He also won the PGA Tour’s Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2020. In addition, Hatton was a member of the winning Ryder Cup squad in 2018.
This Year – Hatton has had an excellent season with four top-ten finishes culminating in a third-place finish at the C.J. Cup and a runner-up spot at the Palmetto Championship. However, like his compatriot Fitzpatrick, he finished the season poorly by missing the cut on three of his last four starts.
Ryder Cup History – Hatton made his Ryder Cup debut in 2018 after qualifying for Thomas Bjorn’s victorious European team, and he will now make his first away appearance in Whistling Straits. Hatton earned one point from three matches in Paris, with his win coming in the Saturday morning fourball matches alongside Casey.
Tommy is a professional golfer from England who competes on the European Tour. On the circuit, he has won five times.
This Year – Fleetwood hasn’t had a great season on the PGA Tour, and I think it could mean he sees significantly less action here than his previous Ryder Cup experience. Although with that said, he did finish fifth at the World Match Play, which could mean he is suited better to head-to-head play.
Ryder Cup History – Fleetwood made his Ryder Cup debut in 2018 when he and his partner Francesco Molinari won all four matches they played together at Le Golf National. The Englishman will be looking to repeat the feat now that he has been selected for Team Europe for the second time. With Molinari, the partnership became the first to win four out of four matches during the competition in Paris, and their off-the-course connection also made headlines, earning them the moniker ‘Moliwood.’
By winning the 2020 Puerto Rico Open, he became the first Norwegian to win on the PGA Tour. By winning the 2021 BMW International Open, he became the first Norwegian to win on the European Tour. In addition, Hovland won the 2020 Mayakoba Golf Classic for the second time on the PGA Tour. He also took home the 2018 U.S. Open Amateur tournament.
This Year – After Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland has probably been the most impressive European on the PGA Tour this year. He has had seven top-ten finishes, with five of them coming inside the top five. The world number 13 finished fifth at the Tour Championship finale and should be one of the European teams’ big players, even at a relatively young age.
Ryder Cup History – When Hovland makes his Ryder Cup debut at Whistling Straits, he becomes the first Norwegian to play for Europe.
Westwood is known for his consistency and is one of the few golfers who have won events on all five continents (Europe, North America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania), including victories on the European and PGA Tours. Westwood has also won tournaments in the 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, and 2020s, spanning four decades. For the 1998, 2000, 2009, and 2020 seasons, Westwood was selected European Tour Golfer of the Year. Despite multiple near misses, including three runner-up finishes, Westwood has been referred to as one of the best golfers without a major championship triumph.
This Year – Westwood continued his resurgence last year with back-to-back runner-up placings at the Arnold Palmer and the Players Championship. However, that was early in the season, and he only finished inside the top 20 once after.
Ryder Cup History – Lee Westwood has featured on an amazing 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 a better history than Westwood (44) in terms of matches played, with 23 points. In addition, the Englishman had unbeaten records at Oakland Hills (2004) and the K Club (2006).
He finished third in the Race to Dubai standings for the 2019 season, his highest finish to date. Wiesberger became the most successful Austrian golfer with three European Tour victories when he won the Alstom Open de France in July 2015. He has since added to his record, becoming an eight-time European Tour winner.
This Year – The Austrian played little golf on the PGA Tour this year, but the highlight of his season in the U.S. was when he finished fourth at the RSM Classic.
Ryder Cup History – Wiesberger is the first Austrian golfer to play in the Ryder Cup for Europe.
As a professional, Garcia has won 36 international tournaments, including the 2008 Players Championship and the 2017 Masters Tournament. Garcia has spent most of his career in the top ten of the Official World Golf Ranking, with more than 300 weeks in the top ten between 2000 and 2009 and more than 450 weeks overall. After winning the HSBC Champions tournament in November 2008, he reached his most significant career ranking of second. Garcia has a net worth of more than US$43 million during his career. He is known for his excellent iron stroke and precision as a golfer.
This Year – The Spaniard with very inconsistent at the beginning of the year, either being majestic like when he won the Sanderson Farms Championship or poor when he missed four cuts back to back. However, he finished the season strong and should bring some good form into this year’s competition.
Ryder Cup History – The Spaniard, who has played in nine Ryder Cups, became Europe’s all-time greatest points scorer with 25.5 points in the 2018 Ryder Cup. At The K Club in 2006, he was undefeated for the first two days, becoming only the second player after Ian Woosnam to win all four points from his foursomes and fourball matches. In addition, he was only the sixth player in Ryder Cup history to win four-and-a-half points out of a potential five at Oakland Hills two years prior. When Europe triumphed by a single point at Celtic Manor in 2010, he was one of Colin Montgomerie’s vice-captains.
He’s previously placed as high as fifth in the world rankings. Poulter’s two World Golf Championship victories, at the 2010 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and the 2012 WGC-HSBC Champions, have been highlights of his career thus far.
This Year – Poulter has had a steady year on the PGA Tour. He proved his love for match play golf by finishing ninth at the World Match Play and his best finish of the season was his third place at the Charles Schwab Challenge.
Ryder Cup History – Ian Poulter, dubbed the Postman because he always delivers at the Ryder Cup, is a Ryder Cup veteran whose selection for the 2021 Ryder Cup came as no surprise given the Englishman’s strong performances in his six outings. His Ryder Cup record is unrivaled, having lost only six of the 22 matches he has played in and undefeated in singles. His performance at Medinah Country Club in 2012, when he won all four of his matches as part of Europe’s remarkable Ryder Cup comeback, will live long in the memories of European fans.
The 2019 Open Championship, the Irish Open as an amateur in 2009, and the 2015 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational are his notable accomplishments.
This Year – Lowry has four top-ten finishes this season, and his inclusion raised some eyebrows as he was seemingly picked over the experienced Justin Rose. However, I was not one of those, and I feel Harrington made the right decision. Lowry has two top-eight finishes at the majors this season.
Ryder Cup History – Shane Lowry received a Captain’s pick and will make his Ryder Cup debut at Whistling Straits, playing with fellow Irishman and good friend Padraig Harrington.
When I look at the European team, one thing that jumps off the page is experience. They will have to draw on that if they are to beat this impressive U.S. lineup. Their key to victory will likely be grinding results out and hoping it’s a close contest and that their experience will see them over the line. Of course, they would prefer to run away with the competition, but I don’t see that happening here. Europe will undoubtedly need its big players to step up and lead the way. I don’t see them rotating things much and I believe they should and possibly will go top-heavy to try and put the Americans under pressure early.