Ryder Cup: Favourites USA still looking for that winning formula

Having four of the world’s top five players did not do the United States any good in the 2010 Ryder Cup, nor did having three of the top four in 2018.

Thursday, 23rd September 2021, 9:18 pm
Team USA spectators dressed up at the Ryder Cup. Pictures: PA.

Now, after a 12-month delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic, US captain Steve Stricker will discover if having eight of the top 10 can see his side regain the trophy in his home state of Wisconsin.

At Celtic Manor it was Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk and Stricker the player who were the top-ranked professionals who could not prevent Colin Montgomerie’s side winning back the cherished gold trophy.

Eleven years on at Whistling Straits it will be Stricker the captain and vice-captains Mickelson and Furyk who are tasked with ensuring the home team justify their position as odds-on favourites.

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Team USA's Scottie Scheffler hits a drive on the fourth hole during a practice day at the Ryder Cup. Picture: AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

For the first time since Valhalla in 2008, half of Stricker’s team is made up of rookies, albeit rookies such as two-time major winner Collin Morikawa, Olympic champion Xander Schauffele and FedEx Cup winner Patrick Cantlay.

“We’re really excited,” said 24-year-old Open champion Morikawa, who was still in university when Europe cruised to victory in Paris.

“It is puzzling how we’ve lost a lot in the handful of years looking back at the past. But that’s the past. We’re here and we’re about the present or hopefully what the future is going to be like.

“It’s about this week and hopefully we can turn that around and kind of turn that tide in our favour for however many years I’m able to play this.”

It remains to be seen how much longer many of the current European team can compete in the Ryder Cup, with Lee Westwood (48) and Ian Poulter (45) likely to be the next two captains and Paul Casey (44) and Sergio Garcia (41) approaching the twilight of their careers.

European captain Padraig Harrington will need to use such experienced players wisely.

“We all know in Ryder Cups there’s a fine line between playing too much and trying to stay fresh,” Harrington said.

“Obviously I have a slightly older team, experienced team, (but a) pretty fit team. That’s the one thing about it.

“We’re not struggling in that sense.”