The COVID-19 pandemic caused this year’s Ryder Cup to be delayed a year, the first time it has missed a year since the September 11th attacks occurred just a few weeks before the 2001 edition was set to take off. That means the Americans have had an extra year to lament in their recent struggles in the ultimate team event, having won just two of the last nine.

The American side would appear to have a tremendous advantage yet again. Only four players on the European side rank higher than 21st in the world rankings, which is where the lowest-ranked member of the 12-man American side currently sits.

Among the U.S. stars are players ranked 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th. So, yeah, talent-wise, it would seem the U.S. should be the overwhelming favorite. However, that has shown to not be the case in recent years, and European cohesion and camaraderie has consistently trumped American talent.

Let’s meet Team USA:

U.S. Ryder Cup Team

Collin Morikawa

Collin Morikawa 2021 Ryder Cup
Collin Morikawa of Team USA and his caddie J.J. Jakovac walk across the course prior to the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits on September 21, 2021 in Kohler, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick Smith via Getty Images)

The “rookie” tag means nothing for Morikawa. Over the past two seasons, the 24-year-old prodigy won the PGA Championship in his tournament debut, and The Open Championship in his tournament debut, in addition to two other events he had not played before. He has won a lot in a short amount of time, and it seems unlikely that if he struggles, it will be because the moment was too big for him.

He is third in the world rankings and absurdly good on the big stage, but there are some concerns with the Cal product heading into the week. He reached the FedExCup playoffs in the No. 1 position, but was a complete non-factor, missing the cut at The Northern Trust, finishing T63 among 69 players at the BMW Championship, and T26 among 30 players at the Tour Championship.

His irons are a godsend (leads the Tour in strokes gained: approach-the-green) for the Americans; there is just the question of health with him. It helps that he has had the last two weeks off.
World Rank: 3rd
Ryder Cup Qualifying: 1st
Ryder Cups: Rookie
Ryder Cup Record: 0-0-0


Dustin Johnson

Dustin Johnson 2021 Ryder Cup
Dustin Johnson of Team USA waves to the crowd prior to the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits on September 21, 2021 in Kohler, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick Smith via Getty Images)

DJ’s unbelievable 2020 PGA Tour season was probably good enough to qualify him for the Ryder Cup ten times, but he has just flat-out not looked like the same player in 2021.

The 37-year-old 24-time Tour winner failed to finish better than T6 in any tournament during the 2021 calendar year, although on the bright side, that result was in the FedExCup playoffs, and he now has four top-10s in his last six starts.

Johnson is the most experienced player on the American side, having played in four previous Ryder Cups.

Of the 24 players at the 2018 Ryder Cup, Johnson tied Tiger Woods for the most losses (4), not forming a particularly strong team with Rickie Fowler and then losing 3&2 to Ian Poulter in Sunday singles.

World Rank: 2nd
Ryder Cup Qualifying: 2nd
Ryder Cups: 4 (2018, 2016, 2012, 2010)
Ryder Cup Record: 7-9-0


Bryson DeChambeau

Bryson DeChambeau 2021 Ryder Cup
Bryson DeChambeau of Team USA during a practice round prior to the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits on September 21, 2021 in Kohler, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick Smith via Getty Images)

Probably the most controversial player in attendance at Whistling Straits, the eight-time Tour winner has been an absolute disaster in these team match-play events. He lost 5&4 in both of his team play events in 2018, one match with Phil Mickelson and one with Tiger Woods, and lost in Sunday singles to Alex Noren.

In addition to being 0-3-0 at the Ryder Cup, DeChambeau was the low scorer on the American side at the 2019 Presidents Cup, going 0-1-1, with captain Tiger Woods not even using him on Friday, before he tied his Sundays Singles match against Canada’s Adam Hadwin, a player he was expected to obliterate.

The 28-year-old is the most difficult player on the team to find a fit for, which will be a challenge for Steve Stricker. The consensus belief is that he should absolutely not be teamed with Brooks Koepka, who he has made headlines for feuding with this past season.

World Rank: 7th
Ryder Cup Qualifying: 3rd
Ryder Cups: 1 (2018)
Ryder Cup Record: 0-3-0


Brooks Koepka

Brooks Koepka 2021 Ryder Cup
Brooks Koepka of Team USA tees off on the 8th hole during a practice round prior to the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits on September 21, 2021 in Kohler, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick Smith via Getty Images)

The four-time major champion did not make himself any fans with comments he made about the Ryder Cup in the past week, where he expressed indifference to the event, and gave the impression that he is not a good fit for the format.

With Koepka, there is also the issue of the wrist injury that forced him to withdraw from the Tour Championship three weeks ago, and the question of whether he can play nice with Bryson DeChambeau, who he has repeatedly taken verbal jabs at throughout the season.

Where there is little question with Koepka, however, is that he thrives in high-pressure events, contending in majors with the kind of consistency that we have not seen since peak Tiger.

Only Patrick Reed scored more points for the American side in 2016, although he was not as great in 2018, doing 1-2-1 and halving his Sunday match with Paul Casey.

Koepka won the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February, and was runner-up in two other events. He was extraordinarily boom-or-bust throughout the season.

Ryder Cup Rank:
World Rank: 10th
Ryder Cup Qualifying: 4th
Ryder Cups: 2018, 2016
Ryder Cup Record: 4-3-1


Justin Thomas

Justin Thomas Jordan Spieth 2021 Ryder Cup
Jordan Spieth (L) and Justin Thomas of Team USA take photos on the third green prior to the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits on September 21, 2021 in Kohler, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick Smith via Getty Images)

There is little negative that can be said about Justin Thomas on the team-play stage. He formed an incredible team with Jordan Spieth at the 2018 Ryder Cup, a tandem that is very likely to be seen again, and then winning his Sunday singles match against a very difficult opponent in Rory McIlroy.

Even without Spieth, he was tremendous teaming up with Tiger Woods at the most recent Ryder Cup, earning 3.5 points for his winning side, the most of anyone on the American team.

The 28-year-old also has 14 PGA Tour titles to his name, including the most recent THE PLAYERS Championship. He had sputtered some since, but appears to be back in form with two fourth-place finishes in his last three starts.

World Rank: 6th
Ryder Cup Qualifying: 5th
Ryder Cups: 1 (2018)
Ryder Cup Record: 4-1-0


Patrick Cantlay

Patrick Cantlay 2021 Ryder Cup
Patrick Cantlay of Team USA walks across the 9th hole prior to the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits on September 21, 2021 in Kohler, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann via Getty Images)

Cantlay arrives at Whistling Straits with considerable momentum, winning the FedExCup Championship and being named PGA Tour Player of the Year after a four-win season.

The 29-year-old really did not make any impressions in the majors this year, but has finished worse than 23rd in just one of his last seven starts. He has really found his groove as a professional, and it would feel foolish to suddenly bet against him this week, even if he is a Ryder Cup rookie.

He finished third on Tour this year in both strokes gained: tee-to-green and strokes gained: total.

Cantlay was excellent at the 2019 Presidents Cup, as the three points he gained for the winning American side was eclipsed by just one player. He formed an excellent tandem with Xander Schauffele and then won his Sunday singles match 3&2 against a motivated Joaquin Niemann.

World Rank: 4th
Ryder Cup Qualifying: 6th
Ryder Cups: Rookie
Ryder Cup Record: 0-0-0


Tony Finau

Tony Finau 2021 Ryder Cup
Tony Finau of Team USA on the 8th tee during a practice round prior to the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits on September 21, 2021 in Kohler, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick Smith via Getty Images)

The stock is through the roof on Finau, as the 32-year-old finally answered questions about his ability to close by winning the recent The Northern Trust, the first round of the FedExCup playoffs. He also had three runner-ups in 2021 worldwide, along with eight additional top-10s.

One of the more well-rounded players on the team, Captain Stricker shouldn’t be shy about using him, as he was outscored by just two Americans at the last Ryder Cup, and destroyed a 4-0-0 Tommy Fleetwood 6&4 in Sunday singles.

World Rank: 9th
Ryder Cup Qualifying: Pick
Ryder Cups: 1 (2018)
Ryder Cup Record: 2-1-0


Xander Schauffele

Xander Schauffele 2021 Ryder Cup
Xander Schauffele of Team USA and Vice Captain Fred Couples speak on the 4th hole during a practice round ahead of the 2021 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits on September 21, 2021 in Kohler, Wisconsin. (Photo by Darren Carroll / PGA of America via Getty Images)

It seems crazy that Schauffele was not an automatic qualifier, given that he seems to be on the leaderboard in every high-stakes event, but Patrick Cantlay’s FedExCup run put the 27-year-old on the outside looking in.

The four-time Tour winner is currently on a winless streak that extends to January of 2019, although he did win the gold medal for golf at the Tokyo Olympics and was the Gross Score winner of the 2020 Tour Championship (which counts as win for world rankings’ points).

Despite no official PGA Tour wins in the past two seasons, he still has six runner-ups in that span, in addition to two third-place finishes, and has a ridiculous 32 top-25s.

Schauffle has finished in the top five of the FedExCup standings in four of his five full-time seasons on Tour. He might be a Ryder Cup rookie, but 2019 Presidents Cup captain Tiger Woods leaned on him heavily, confidence that Schauffele rewarded by notching three points in five matches for the Americans.

World Rank: 5th
Ryder Cup Qualifying: Pick
Ryder Cups: Rookie
Ryder Cup Record: 0-0-0


Jordan Spieth

Jordan Spieth 2021 Ryder Cup
Vice-captain Zach Johnson of Team USA and Jordan Spieth look on prior to the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits on September 21, 2021 in Kohler, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere via Getty Images)

Amidst shocking struggles from 2018-2020, it looked like Spieth would be a longshot to make the 2021 Ryder Cup squad, despite a tremendous history in the event.

Fortunately for the 28-year-old three-time major champion, Spieth rediscovered his game this season with nine top-10s, including a win at the Valero Texas Open, two runner-ups, and two other third place finishes.

He was solo runner-up to Collin Morikawa at The Open Championship and was T3 at The Masters. He has not missed a cut on Tour since January.

Spieth did not make the team on points, but was among the easiest decisions for Captain Stricker.

He scored three points in the losing American effort in 2018, forming a superteam with long-time friend Justin Thomas that is very likely to be replicated this week.

Spieth has, however, lost by multiple holes in all three of his Sunday singles showings, including a 5&4 bomb against a very inexperienced Thorbjorn Olesen in 2018.

World Rank: 13th
Ryder Cup Qualifying: Pick
Ryder Cups: 3 (2018, 2016, 2014)
Ryder Cup Record: 7-5-2


Harris English

Harris English 2021 Ryder Cup
Harris English of Team USA plays his shot on the 9th hole prior to the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits on September 21, 2021 in Kohler, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann via Getty Images)

Probably the least well-known player on the American side, English was the highest ranked in the standings (10th) that people could have seen Stricker conceivably passing on.

English made it difficult, though, by winning twice this year, including in a marathon eight-hole playoff at the Travelers Championship, showing that he can come out front in a one-on-one scenario.

He has also two runner-ups in the past two seasons, including several strong finishes in majors, among 14 top 10s. He also won this year’s Sentry Tournament of Champions, one of the stronger fields of the year, in a playoff.

World Rank: 11th
Ryder Cup Qualifying: Pick
Ryder Cups: Rookie
Ryder Cup Record: 0-0-0


Daniel Berger

Daniel Berger 2021 Ryder Cup
Daniel Berger of Team USA walks across the course prior to the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits on September 21, 2021 in Kohler, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick Smith via Getty Images)

The 28-year-old Florida State product was phenomenally consistent the past two seasons, and in 2021 missed just two cuts in 23 starts, highlighted by a dramatic victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February.

Berger was especially tremendous coming off the 2020 COVID-19 layoff, finishing in the top three in four of his first six events after the break, including a playoff win over Collin Morikawa at the Charles Schwab Challenge. He was stellar with his irons this past season, finishing fifth in strokes gained: approach-the-green and seventh in greens in regulation.

This will be his first Ryder Cup, but he did represent the Americans at the 2017 Presidents Cup, accumulating a 2-1-0 record and winning his Sunday singles match against Si Woo Kim.

World Rank: 16th
Ryder Cup Qualifying: Pick
Ryder Cups: Rookie
Ryder Cup Record: 0-0-0


Scottie Scheffler

Scottie Scheffler 2021 Ryder Cup
Scottie Scheffler of Team USA plays his shot prior to the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits on September 21, 2021 in Kohler, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick Smith via Getty Images)

Steve Stricker’s selection of Scheffler, a 25-year-old Ryder Cup rookie, over “Captain America” Patrick Reed was somewhat controversial given the general lack of experience on the team, combined with the fact that Scheffler has yet to win on the PGA Tour.

Regardless Scheffler made a tremendous case of his own, consistently contending in big stage events, including four top-8 finishes in his last five major starts (he has yet to finish outside the top 20 in a major as a professional).

It also helped that he finished second at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play this season, impressively knocking off three match-play dynamos in Ian Poulter, Jon Rahm, and Matt Kuchar before losing to Billy Horschel in the finale. He is also the only player on the team to have shot 59 in a Tour event.

World Rank: 21st
Ryder Cup Qualifying: Pick
Ryder Cups: Rookie
Ryder Cup Record: 0-0-0


Captain: Steve Stricker
Vice-Captains: Zach Johnson, Davis Love III, Phil Mickelson, Fred Couples


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