THE 43RD RYDER CUP.
The Ultimate Duel.
After a delay of one year, the time has now come: the Ryder Cup with Worldwide Partner BMW will take place at Whistling Straits in the US state of Wisconsin – with the passionate fans that make this competition what it is: the greatest, most emotionally charged and prestigious golf event in the world, an epic duel for fame and glory. The spectacular course on the shores of Lake Michigan will see hosts USA face off against the players representing defending champions Europe. Both teams boast illustrious names, Ryder Cup legends and outstanding rookies. The world of sport has an intensive, thrilling and highly emotional contest to look forward to.
Golf fans are most familiar with Whistling Straits as a venue for the PGA Championship. Although the impressive course was only opened as recently as 1998, the major has already been held here on three occasions: 2004, 2010 and 2015. It will now host the biggest event in golf in 2021. The Ryder Cup will be played on the Straights Course, which was designed by famous golf course architect Pete Dye and is a classic British-style links course. With a length of 7,100 metres, it is spread over a three-kilometre stretch of the banks of Lake Michigan. The course has roughly 1,000 bunkers – nobody knows exactly how many, as the number is constantly changing, due to the effect of the wind and weather on the sandy ground.
Captain of Team USA.
Steve Stricker is the man charged with winning the Ryder Cup back for the USA. The event at Whistling Straits will be a real home match for the 52-year-old: Stricker was born in Wisconsin and still lives there. A more important factor in his selection as captain was probably the fact that the twelve-time winner on the PGA TOUR enjoys the full support and respect of his colleagues – this is an important factor, as the Americans strive to counter the team spirit that has been the great strength of their European opponents. “Stricks”, who has been involved in three Ryder Cups (one win) as a player, is also seen as a big tinkerer and strategist, who has already proven himself as a captain in the 2017 Presidents Cup.
Captain of Team Europe.
For a long time, it has been a safe bet that Pádraig Harrington would, at some time, captain the European team in a Ryder Cup. That time has come, and the 48-year-old will attempt to defend the coveted trophy in the USA in 2021. The likeable Irishman is extremely popular with his colleagues and a role model for the latest generation of top European players. Before his victories at the Open in 2007 and 2008, and the 2007 PGA Championship, Europe had had to wait almost a decade since its last major winner. “Paddy” showed the likes of McIlroy, Kaymer and Stenson that it was possible. The experience gained at six Ryder Cups as a player (four wins) and three as vice captain (two wins) make Harrington an excellent choice as captain.
The United States of America will be represented by a team that combines impressive playing strength and great form. Ten of the twelve players are currently in the top 15 of the golf world rankings. Using that as a benchmark would make the hosts clear favourites, as they also enjoy home advantage.
Six players qualified thanks to their world ranking positions: Collin Morikawa, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay. Captain Steve Stricker allocated the six remaining places by handing wild cards to Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth, Harris English, Daniel Berger and Scottie Scheffler.
Half of the Ryder Cup Team USA players are rookies: Morikawa, Schauffele, Cantlay, English, Berger and Scheffler are competing for the first time – the USA has not appeared with so many new faces since 2008.
The European Ryder Cup team includes many names that featured in the dominant 17.5-10.5 win over the USA in Paris at the most recent edition of the tournament in 2018. The European players did not match the world ranking positions of the Team USA, but this is offset by the outstanding team spirit that has often proved beneficial for Europe in the past.
Nine qualification spots were secured by Jon Rahm (ESP), Rory McIlroy (NIR), Tommy Fleetwood (ENG), Viktor Hovland (NOR), Paul Casey (ENG), Matthew Fitzpatrick (ENG), Tyrrell Hatton (ENG), Lee Westwood (ENG) and Bernd Wiesberger (AUT). Padraig Harrington then selected Shane Lowry (IRL) and the two Ryder Cup legends Sergio García (ESP) and Ian Poulter (ENG) as his Captain’s Picks.
Lowry, Hovland and Wiesberger will be the three rookies in the European ranks. Hovland and Wiesberger are also the first golfers from their respective nations to compete in a Ryder Cup.