The 2021 Ryder Cup matches at Wisconsin’s Whistling Straits begin Friday, and inquiring minds have to wonder if United States captain Steve Stricker selected the right players?

What jumps out is the fact that six U.S. players — Daniel Berger, Scottie Schleffler, Harris English, Xander Schauffle, Patrick Cantlay, and Collin Morikawa — were playing in their first Ryder Cup competition. That means the American squad is half Ryder Cup rookies.

Bill Kennedy, Golf Columnist

The “veterans” on the squad — Jordan Spieth, Tony Finau, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson — are household U.S. golf names.

The most notable absence on the team is Phil Mickelson, who won the 2021 PGA, but his overall season performance did not merit a Ryder Cup berth, at least in the eye of Stricker. If it came to a fans’ vote, probably Mickelson would have been on the U.S. team.

Counter that with the European roster, which has just three rookies — Viktor Hovland of Norway, Bernd Wiesberger of Austria and Shane Lowry of Ireland. The Euro “veterans” are Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia, both of Spain; Rory McElroy of Northern Ireland; and six Brits, Tommy Fleetwood, Paul Casey, Lee Westwood, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tyrell Hatton and Ian Poulter.

The U.S. advantage is that it is the home team, and many of the members of that squad have been at Whistling Straits for two weeks learning how to play that course.

The European advantage is that they have experienced Ryder Cup players, who have won more Ryder Cup matches than they have lost, and they are confident they can win the cup on U.S. soil.

Do not be deceived by the fact that the gallery will be heavily American citizens, who will make a lot of noise for their team. That will not rattle this experienced European squad.

Be more mindful of the Ryder Cup records of the players. The six Americans who have Ryder Cup experience have a compiled match record of 23 wins, 22 losses and three ties. The nine Euros who have Ryder Cup experience have posted 77 wins, 55 losses and 24 ties. That computes to 48 Ryder Cup rounds of golf for the Americans, while the Europeans have been in 156 Ryder Cup matches.

Johnson has the most Ryder Cup matches for the U.S., having won seven and lost nine, followed by Spieth (7-5-2)

Then there is Europe with Westwood (20-18-6), Garcia (22-12-7) McElroy (11-9-4) and Poulter (14-6-2). The four of them have more Ryder Cup course time than any of the Americans — by a lot.

If there will be a “home field advantage” for the U.S. team, the American are going to need to play great golf, because the Europeans will not be intimidated by the crowds. Good luck, Yanks!

 

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If you are interested in PGA Tour Statistics, here are a few that jump out:

• The average PGA Tour player made $1,485,055 in the 2020-21 season, which is the most ever, with 2018 ($1,329,295) being the previous average high.

• The all-time high for an individual season in terms of “official money,” is Jordan Spieth in 2015 ($12,030,465), and the most times being the top season money-winner, of course, is Tiger Woods, who accomplished this 10 times between 1997 and 2013. What might surprise you is that VJ Singh was the top money-winner three times during that run by Tiger.

 

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The Maine State Golf Association will conduct Men’s Play Days on Oct. 1-2 at Waterville, while a Women’s Play Day will be Sept. 28 at Webhannet and Fox Ridge.

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This will be the final “Par For The Course” column of the 2021 season. Once again, it has been this writer’s privilege to provide golf news and insight for Sun Journal readers.

 

Bill Kennedy, a retired New Jersey golf writer and editor now residing on Thompson Lake in Otisfield, is in his ninth season as Sun Journal golf columnist. 


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