The Ryder Cup: A Closer Look at Team USA

It’s Ryder Cup week, a match-play that looks, sounds, and plays like no other. Let’s have a closer look at the U.S team comprising six automatic picks and six captain’s picks.

Tyrrell Hatton
World Ranking: 19
Ryder Cup appearances: 1

When Tyrell Hatton won in Abu Dhabi at the start of the year, he reached number five in the world rankings, but he has been playing terribly since, by his own admission. His only top-ten finish in his last fourteen outings came against a weak field at the Palmetto Championship, and he has missed four of his last six cuts, including his previous two. His Ryder Cup record isn’t great either; he was 1-2-0 last time out in Paris, so he is a concern for many U.S fans coming into the tournament this week. Despite not being in great form, Hatton is well-liked by his teammates, so he offers many options to Steve Stricker for the pairings. In saying that, don’t expect to see too much of him before Sunday.

Harris English
World Ranking: 11
Ryder Cup appearances: Rookie

Harris English had an incredible breakout season with two tour victories. The rookie has a beautiful swing, and his putting statistics are up there with the best, 12th in strokes gained and eighth in one-putt percentage, but most impressively, second in average distance of putts made per round. The possible concern for the Stricker is that English doesn’t seem to feed off crowds like others do and could potentially fall victim to nerves. Don’t expect to see too much of him in the first two days, especially not in the first session.

Daniel Berger
World Ranking: 16
Ryder Cup appearances: Rookie

Daniel Berger is often forgotten when discussions about the group of the best young American golfers take place but make no mistake. That is due to his lack of airtime as he doesn’t like doing interviews; it has nothing to do with what he can do on the golf course. Berger had an awe-inspiring performance under Stricker at the 2017 Presidents Cup and never doubted the call would come from the captain. He is part of the Jupiter crew alongside Justin Thomas, Patrick Cantlay, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka and is popular amongst his peers. He is one of the most consistent players on tour, so he offers multiple pairing

Bryson DeChambeau
World Ranking: 7
Ryder Cup appearances: 1

DeChambeau will be the centre of attention at Whistling Straits his week, as he is most weeks. His long-running feud with Brooks Koepka and his decision to play in a long-drive competition which, by his own admission, has ‘wrecked his hands’ so close to the Ryder Cup, will both be hot topics of conversation this week. His match-play record is awful, going 0-3 at the last Ryder Cup in Paris and 0-1-1 at the Presidents Cup in 2019. Still, on the flip side for team USA he is the longest hitter of all 24 players who will play this week, feasting on par 5’s, head and shoulders above all others on tour in eagle frequency and third on tour for birdie percentage. The million-dollar question, though, is who he will play with?

Brooks Koepka
World Ranking: 10
Ryder Cup appearances: 2

Koepke recently displayed annoyance in an interview with Golf Digest with the Ryder Cup team dynamic, which would not have made pleasant reading for Steve Stricker. Saying controversial things before going out on course and turning in excellent performances on golf’s grandest stages isn’t uncommon for the man from Modesto, California, so Stricker will undoubtedly take some comfort from that. Expect to see a lot of Koepka over the weekend; he has after all finished T-7 or better in 12 of his last 16 major appearances and did well here at Whistling Straits in the PGA Championship in 2015, finishing tied for fifth. This golf course is an excellent fit for Koepka’s game.

Collin Morikawa
World Ranking: 3
Ryder Cup appearances: Rookie

There are injury concerns over Morikawa heading into Whistling Straits despite the player himself stating he is 100% fine. Despite securing his second major championship only two months ago, he is playing poorly, fairing badly at the FedEx Cup and missing the cut at the Northern Trust. Despite his poor form, Morikawa has proven time and time again that he is more than capable of beating any player in the world on any golf course in the world, and Stricker will be hoping that a couple of weeks of rest will have rejuvenated the world number three. Despite saying recently at the Tour Championship that he hopes to play with Thomas or Schauffele, don’t be surprised to see Morikawa as the man paired with DeChambeau or possibly Berger, who he is signed to the same agency as.

Scottie Scheffler
World Ranking: 21
Ryder Cup appearances: Rookie

Sheffler is the lowest-ranked American on the team, and it must have been a tough decision for Stricker to select him ahead of Patrick Reed, or Kevin NA. Stricker says he got the nod mainly due to his length off the tee. Scheffler plays well under pressure; he has tied 19th or better in all of his last six majors and was seventh on tour for birdie average last season so expect to see a fair bit of him in the four-balls.

Tony Finau
World Ranking: 9
Ryder Cup appearances: 1

It was always likely that Finau would be a captain’s pick given his length off the tee and his habit of birdie binges. His victory at The Northern Trust ending a five-year winless streak will have done him no harm either when it came to Stricker finalising his selection. Finau had a good showing in Paris after securing a captain’s pick there as well, going 2-1 and pumping the previously unbeaten Tommy Fleetwood 6 and 4 in the singles. Everyone gets along with Tony Finau; he is one of few potential playing partners for Bryson DeChambeau.

Jordan Spieth
World Ranking: 13
Ryder Cup appearances: 3

It is more than likely that Spieth would have missed out altogether if the Ryder Cup had taken place in 2020 as scheduled, but it’s postponement due to COVID-19 gave him time to re-find his form. He is once again one of the best and most consistent players on tour. With Patrick Reed not making the team, Spieth will likely play again with Justin Thomas after the pair went 3-1 in 2018 in Paris. Spieth is one of the shorter hitting Americans on the team but likes Whistling Straits; he shot 18 under to finish second at the PGA Championship in 2015.

Dustin Johnson
World Ranking: 2
Ryder Cup appearances: 4

DJ is the oldest player on team USA, the oldest by five years. He is also the man on the team with the most Ryder Cup appearances, although, given the European dominance in recent times, the bulk of his experience has been of the losing variety. Despite Johnson enduring a summer slump after a dominant 2020, he has regained form in time for the greatest show on earth with four top-ten finishes on his last six outings. He comes to Whistling Straits with his confidence back after holing numerous crucial putts in the FedEx Cup playoffs. Johnson has played with several partners over his four previous Ryder Cup appearances but hasn’t had great success. He is 4-8-0 in team sessions and 3-1-0 in singles; despite that record, he will be a crucial part of team USA if they have any degree of success at Whistling Straits.

Xander Schauffele
World Ranking: 5
Ryder Cup appearances: Rookie

If there was ever a Ryder Cup rookie that doesn’t feel like he’s a Ryder Cup rookie, it’s Zander Scauffele. Despite not yet getting his hands on a major, he is consistently a big-time performer in them, and the maiden major is surely not too far away. Schaufele has recent team-play experience, faring well in the Presidents Cup in 2019 and, more recently, bringing home gold for America in the Olympics. He is as well rounded a player as you will find, ranked 16th in elite putting, 14th in elite approach play, and 12th in eagle frequency Schaufele is a player you are likely to see at least four, if not five times over the three-day event, most likely, alongside Patrick Cantlay. Whoever he plays with, though, will be lucky to have Schuafele and his fantastic short game alongside them.

Patrick Cantlay
World Ranking: 4
Ryder Cup appearances: Rookie

Patrick Cantlay comes into the Ryder Cup in the form of his life, having outbattled DeChambeau at Caves Valley then holding on at East Lake to take home the FedEx Cup. He also, albeit surprisingly, pipped Jon Rahm to scoop PGA Tour player of the year. Expect to see Cantlay paired with his best friend Schauffele, possibly in all four sessions as they were at the Presidents Cup in 2019. Cantlay is a rookie only in name, he is capable of stringing together runs of birdies, and like Johnson, team USA need a solid performance and points on the board from Cantlay if they are to win back the Ryder Cup.

Justin Thomas
World Ranking: 6
Ryder Cup appearances: 1

Justin Thomas is quite simply an elite golfer, and he has been for a long time. It is hard to believe this is only his second Ryder Cup appearance. He was the stand out performer for his team in an otherwise dismal Paris showing going 4-1 in a partnership with Spieth, a partnership we will no doubt see a lot of again this week. He also won his singles match last time around, out first against Rory McIlroy. Playing Thomas in all five rounds at Whistling Straits will be one of the easiest decisions Steve Stricker has to make this week.

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