Europe has beaten the U.S. in nine of the last 12 Ryder Cups, but a talented American team captained by Madison's Steve Stricker is looking to reverse that tide this weekend at Whistling Straits on the shores of Lake Michigan.
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The Americans bring the type of credentials that make them favorites in just about every Ryder Cup, and this year is no different. It just rarely translates into winning the Ryder Cup, and only Europe seems to have the answer.
“We are worried about this one, and just trying to win this one,” Steve Stricker said when asked about Europe's dominance of the Ryder Cup.
“We have the best players this year,” said Paul Azinger, the lead analyst for NBC Sports who still uses pronouns as if it were 2008 when he was the U.S. captain. “And obviously, they (Europe) roll in with the most confidence and maybe the best team.”
The captains are required to put one name in an envelope on Saturday evening. That player would sit out and be given a half-point if someone on the other team can't play because of injury.
As if there wasn’t enough suspense and second-guessing of the Ryder Cup captains in past years, a nod to the COVID-19 pandemic could make things more topsy-turvy than usual this time around.
“Amazing that this golf course is man-made,” European vice captain Graeme McDowell marveled, “because it just looks like it’s been there since the beginning of time.”
Friction within the team the Ryder Cup might be new for the Americans, but it hasn’t kept the Europeans from winning with regularity.
“I think this is a team event. I'm focused on helping Team USA to a victory, and that's honestly the reason why I'm here,” Bryson DeChambeau said.
At the Ryder Cup, Ian Poulter becomes an eye-bulging, fist-pumping burst of adrenaline who can put up ‘W’s while also getting under almost anyone's skin, whether it be Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson or even Michael Jordan.
Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas almost surely will be paired together in both foursomes and fourballs beginning Friday, and what they deliver will go a long way toward deciding if Team USA can win the Ryder Cup.
Sergio Garcia is one of only four players to compete in Ryder Cups across four decades, and he has won 25 1/2 points, the most in Ryder Cup history and as many points as the 2021 U.S. team combined.
“There's been captains who did a good job and it doesn't equate to a win,” Steve Stricker said before laughing and adding, “It can be a thankless job.”
Phil Mickelson and Fred Couples join Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson and Davis Love III as assistant captains to Madison's Steve Stricker for the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits on Sept. 24-26.
Facts and figures for the 43rd Ryder Cup matches Friday-Sunday at Pete Dye's Whistling Straits, which emulates a cliffside links course with two miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, bluffs, sand dunes and natural fescue lining the fairways.
A hole-by-hole look at the Straits course at Whistling Straits, site of the 43rd Ryder Cup matches Friday-Sunday.
A capsule look at the European team for the 43rd Ryder Cup matches Friday-Sunday at Whistling Straits.
A capsule look at the American team for the 43rd Ryder Cup matches Friday-Sunday at Whistling Straits.
Brooks Koepka is teammates for the week with Bryson DeChambeau and 10 other guys, charged with regaining the Ryder Cup on home soil. But his feud with the long hitter isn’t over by any stretch.
The Americans have 11 of the top 16 players in the world and COVID-19 travel restrictions make the crowd at Whistling Straits even more one-sided than Lambeau Field.
In the post-Brexit world, seven of Europe’s 12 players aren’t technically from countries in the European Union anymore.
Lee Elder earned one of the nine automatic qualifying spots for Team Europe and will tie Nick Faldo's European record by making his 11th appearance this week.