The teams are set for the 43rd Ryder Cup, and once again, the United States has a massive advantage going into what should be a fascinating week of golf at Whistling Straits. Captain Steve Stricker has put together arguably the most talented group of players ever assembled at a Ryder Cup, but Europe has made this the most popular team event in the world by disassembling previous U.S. teams that fit that bill. They will again try to do that with world No. 1 Jon Rahm and four-time major winner Rory McIlroy leading the way.
This is a Ryder Cup of contrast. Europe is stocked with veterans who have been in some wars. The U.S. is half rookies and mostly full of players in their 20s. It's a fascinating showdown in which both sides have fully leaned into their identities. The U.S. are a big-hitting group of young studs, while the Euros are a cagey squad rife with a handful of individuals who have as much experience as the entire U.S. team combined.
Though the event is played out with teams, it mostly comes down to individuals hitting golf shots (either together or on their own). We need to look at how every player on each roster has been playing and is projected to fit at Whistling Straits this week. First up is a U.S. side full of rookies, ranked by Official World Golf Ranking.
2021 Ryder Cup teams
United States team
|United States||OWGR||Age||Ryder Cup||Breakdown|
|2||37||5th||D.J. has been fine over the course of his Ryder Cup career (7-9-0), but he's been magnificent at Whistling Straits. He (infamously) finished T5 at the 2010 PGA Championship and followed that with a T8 at the 2015 PGA. He's trending a bit, too, ranking fifth on this team over the last three months in strokes gained.|
|3||24||1st||Morikawa is a superstar, but he's not played well since his win at the Open Championship. He ranks last of everyone on this team in strokes gained over the last three months and did not have a top-25 finish in his last four starts on the PGA Tour leading into this week.|
|4||29||1st||Cantlay ranks first on this team over the last three months in strokes gained (2.34 per round) and should thrive in his debut. He's a five-tool player who could be used in so many different ways this week. A rookie in name only.|
|5||27||1st||Schauffele is another guy who is shockingly playing in his first Ryder Cup. He has no holes, could be paired with anybody and is quite long off the tee, which will be meaningful at Whistling Straits.|
|6||28||2nd||J.T. was a rock star in Paris, and after struggling for most of the summer, his putter got pretty hot in two of the three FedEx Cup Playoff events. The U.S. will almost certainly lean on him to play all five matches this week.|
|7||28||2nd||An absolute wild card. He's elite off the tee (obviously) and a great (and underrated) putter. He should thrive at a place like Whistling, but he's also been spending most of his time prepping for the World Long Drive Contest, which is next week. Who knows what we're getting.|
|9||32||2nd||Finau was really steady in Paris and will be a good presence on this team. Whistling Straits was the site of his first major top 10 back in 2015, and his length is emblematic of the U.S. advantage over Europe on this course.|
|10||31||3rd||Another wild card. Koepka is 4-3-1 in his career at the Ryder Cup, but a lingering injury and loads of questions about both DeChambeau and his recent Ryder Cup comments could be a distraction. Or they could be fuel to a 4-0-0 week. Who knows with him?|
|11||32||1st||English (surprisingly?) comes in as the second-hottest player over the last three months behind only Cantlay. He's not long, but he's an elite putter who can be paired with almost anyone. Potential breakout star.|
|13||28||4th||Spieth is 7-5-2 over the course of his Ryder Cup career, which means nobody on this team has earned more points than he has. He's fallen off a bit from his torrid six-month run in the middle of the season, and maybe you worry about driver a bit (he's not crazy long). However, he's a team leader, elite iron player and could go every match with J.T.|
|16||29||1st||Berger has been absolutely filthy with his iron play for the last few months and is my pick for biggest surprise this week. He was tremendous at the 2017 Presidents Cup at Liberty National and won't care who he's playing or how it looks.|
|21||25||1st||Scheffler is really long (10 yards longer than PGA Tour average), which is why he's on the team. He also finished seventh in birdie or better percentage on the PGA Tour last year. The U.S. won't ride him, but they won't hide him, either. If he can steal two points, that would be massive for Stricker's squad.|
The obvious theme on the U.S. side is length, and the stats are stunning. The Americans have 10 of the 11 highest-ranked in OWGR. They have six of the seven best over the last three months in terms of strokes gained. They have three of the four longest players and the four best putters over the last three months. Those numbers obviously don't mean they will win, but if you did a blind stats test, they would win by a lot.
|1||26||2nd||Statistically, Europe does not have a ton going for it, but one thing it does have is that Rahm is the best player in the world (and it's not even close). He's gaining 3.0 strokes per round on the best fields in golf over the last three months and fits Whistling Straits perfectly. Scary.|
|14||24||1st||Hovland is perhaps the most overlooked piece to Europe's path to victory. He's nearly 10 yards deeper off the tee than the PGA Tour average and finished ninth in birdies last season (mostly because he gains nearly a stroke per round with his irons). He could absolutely win 3-4 points for Europe.|
|15||32||6th||McIlroy has played in 24 of 24 possible matches over the course of his Ryder Cup career. That should tell you everything you need to know about how much Europe needs him, especially on this golf course. He can match D.J. and DeChambeau's length off the tee and provide life like he did in 2016 at Hazeltine.|
|19||29||2nd||Hatton has quietly been not that great for the last three months (he's missed four of six cuts). His strokes-gained number is the worst on the team and worse than other Europeans like Santiago Ben Tarrio and Mikko Korhonen. Europe needs him to find some magic this week.|
|24||44||5th||He's been awesome all year and has a winning Ryder Cup record (barely) at 4-3-5 over the course of his career. Only Rahm has been better statistically over the last three months.|
|27||27||2nd||He's shorter than PGA Tour average off the tee, which is going to be such a problem on this course. On the flip side, he's a good iron player and an elite putter, so if Europe plays the holes right, they could get him on a foursomes team that could do some damage.|
|35||48||11th||Westwood is a Ryder Cup legend, but he also doesn't have a top-20 finish at a stroke-play event since ... March. As such, he'll play sparingly this week. He's also lost some pop off the tee over the last few years. Westwood seemed like he was playing his last Ryder Cup at Hazeltine ... and that was five years ago!|
|37||30||2nd||Pretty average year for Fleetwood on the PGA Tour, but he could be next in that line of Seve Ballesteros, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter of guys who just rise to the occasion at the Ryder Cup. He went 4-1-0 in Paris.|
|42||34||1st||Lowry was solid throughout the year and comes in on a run of 12 top-25 finishes in his last 16 starts. He's going to be a joy to watch in his first Ryder Cup.|
|43||41||10th||Garcia might hold the keys to this Ryder Cup. He's Europe's all-time leading point scorer, and he came on with three solid putting performances at the very end of the PGA Tour season. Combined with how elite he's been off the tee (eighth in strokes gained over the last six months), Garcia could play a ton this week.|
|50||45||7th||A spiritual leader, no doubt, but I don't see it this week. He's 10 yards shorter than PGA Tour average (40 shorter than DeChambeau), and this course does not set up that well for him. He's 2-3-2 in his last two Ryder Cups.|
|63||35||1st||I could actually see Wiesberger having a nice week. He's fairly long off the tee and at 0.71 strokes gained per round, and he's played better than Westwood, Fitzpatrick and Hatton over the last three months.|
Europe has one path to victory, and it runs through its four best drivers (Rahm, McIlroy, Hovland and Garcia). If that foursome can thrive and they can engender a bit of distrust among the Americans (which shouldn't be that hard right now), I think Europe can win. If not, they're going to have a hard time keeping up.
2021 Ryder Cup gear now available
The Ryder Cup starts Sept. 24, and team-issued gear is now available. Get jackets, polos, hats, hoodies, and much more to support your team. Shop here.
We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.