As the 2021 race for the FedEx Cup comes to a close with Patrick Cantlay claiming the title, the premier match play event of the year is here. The Ryder Cup is historic, as once every two years Europe’s elite squares off against the United States top golfers. This year the event will be back on U.S. soil and feature the historic links-style track Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. Whistling Straits features a little bit of every golf feature you can have. Elevation change, deep bunkers, heavy fescue, and a lot of wind make Whistling Straits one of the toughest challenges America has to offer. There are some important factors that need to be considered before we dive into some of the key players competing in this year’s event.
Whistling Straits is a true links-style course
The design and feel of Whistling Straits lines up with everything you would see at a traditional links style course, with the addition of more water. Right from the start, this type of golf course favors the Europeans, as this is a super common course design across the pond. Sure, the Straits is on American soil, but Team Europe will have an additional confidence boost knowing this course lays out similarly to courses on their home soil.
A U.S. home game always hits different
Post covid golf has proven to be a fan’s paradise. The PGA Championship and U.S. Open were amongst many events that brought energy we haven’t seen since pre-pandemic. The USA fans are going to be electric in Wisconsin this week. Something about a Team USA vs Europe match brings out the wild nature of sports fanatics. Expect the noise and energy to be at an all-time high.
Team USA’s inner drama will be an interesting distraction in this year’s cup
Last week Ryder Cup member Brooks Koepka made a statement to the press complaining about the “busy schedule” that comes with representing his country in this event. He’s upset that he has to practice and develop team chemistry instead of working out and watching TV. Honestly, if this guy doesn’t want to be here, get him outta here. There are plenty of players we could use on the team (Kevin Kisner, Max Homa, Kevin Na, etc.). The ongoing drama between Brooks and Bryson Dechambeau has tensions high as we approach this week’s action. While Team Europe is united under one common goal, the country under one flag can’t move past silly nicknames and slow play.
After taking these matters into consideration it appears that the matchup may favor Team Europe before play even begins on Friday. But golf is unpredictable, so truly anything can happen. Despite all of these looming elements, it all comes down to the players in the end. Let’s take a look at a few difference-makers for each team.
Ian Poulter (Euro)
Although his 2021 campaign may not have turned out how he had hoped, Poulter is still the most competitive and gritty player in match play format. There is something about going head-to-head that Poulter loves. Poulter is probably the biggest threat on Team Europe besides Jon Rahm due to his tenacity, no quit-attitude, and maybe even his ego. It will be interesting to see who will square up against the Englishman, as the USA team is full of a lot of newcomers. In this situation, experience like Dustin Johnson or Jordan Speith might be the best players to take. Bryson Dechambeau against Ian Poulter might be the most interesting match-up if they end up paired against one another.
Bryson Dechambeau (USA)
Bryson has been the center of controversy this year in golf. With his slow play, constant complaining of rules and never being satisfied with equipment, Bryson is a Grade A baby at times. But he can belittle a golf ball. Overpowering a golf course doesn’t work all of the time, but Bryson should be able to be extremely aggressive at Whistling Straits. Hopefully, there won’t be many Brooksy chants this week, as I am sure the U.S. fans want to win. Look for Bryson to be the difference-maker this week.
A few other names to look out for this week include the Irishman Shane Lowry and the number one ranked U.S. player Colin Morikawa. Lowry has had a very slow year but is a super competitive big hitter. The big man has a stellar short game too and will be a force on the weekend. Morikawa had one of the best years on tour aside from Patrick Cantlay. The Open Champion could lead the U.S. team to victory in his first Ryder Cup appearance. Overall I think we are in for a great cup this year. I love my Team USA, but I, unfortunately, think Team Europe will take the Cup in a close race. Europe has won 7 of the last 10 cups, but I sure hope we can add one more to the USA’s resume this weekend. Enjoy the show.