The 2016 Ryder Cup is now only two days away, the opening ceremonies will kick off tomorrow at Four PM.
The United States looks to snap a three Ryder Cup losing streak with a team that Captain Davis Love claims is the best ever. The full United States team includes Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed, Brooks Koepka, Brandt Snedeker, Zach Johnson and captains picks Matt Kuchar, Rickie Fowler, JB Holmes and Ryan Moore.
The European team has been dominant in the past two decades, claiming eight of the last ten Ryder Cup’s. The full European Team includes Rory Mcilroy, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Danny Willett, Chris Wood, Andy Sullivan, Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Captain’s picks Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Thomas Pieters.
These are two evenly matched and overall fantastic teams and it should set up for some great matches between the United States and Europe.
Here are five things you need to know heading into this weekend at the Hazeltine National Golf Club:
1. Phil Mickelson’s 11th straight Ryder Cup appearance: The lefty has been now included on the United States Ryder Cup team since 1995 and brings a lot of experience. His record is below .500 in both fourballs and foursomes (7-8-2 and 4-6-4 respectively) and has a 5-5-1 record for the singles matches. But, the man has proved year in and year out to be a viable asset to the team with his consistent short game and is an important role model for the younger guys. We even saw at the age of 46 that Mickelson can still compete with the world’s best in his heavyweight showdown in the final round of the 2016 Open Championship against Henrik Stenson.
2. The half dozen European rookies: Team Europe brings half a team in that has never competed in a Ryder Cup. Captain Darren Clarke saw that all six of these guys would be important tools to try and win the fourth straight European cup. All six of golfers (Rafa-Cabrera Bello, Chris Wood, Andy Sullivan, Thomas Pieters, Danny Willett and Matthew Fitzpatrick) are all ranked in the top 50 of the World Golf Rankings. If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the course of history, rookies seem to have better showings rather than the seasoned veterans.
3. The Pressure is on Thomas Pieters: Many believed that Russell Knox would be a shoe-in for the final captains pick for team Europe after a solid season. However, Darren Clarke chose Thomas Pieters (ranked 42nd) over Russell Knox (ranked 19th). Peters has only one top 25 finish in the five PGA events he has played this year compared to Knox who has had two wins, two second place finishes and is ranked in the top ten in the Fed-Ex cup. Knox has made just under 5,000,000 dollars on the tour this year and would’ve been a fantastic final pick. This isn’t the first time team Europe has made a controversial final pick, Ian Poulter was widely criticized when Nick Faldo picked him in 2008. Then, Poulter was the top point scorer for team Europe, maybe Darren Clarke sees something that many of the critics do not in Pieters.
4. The strong European Veteran Core: Now, there are six guys who have played in Ryder Cups before for team Europe and they all have had winning records. The three guys highlighted are Justin Rose (9-3-2), Sergio Garcia (18-9-5) and Lee Westwood (20-15-6). Justin Rose had one of the biggest rounds of his life in the 2012 Ryder Cup singles against Phil Mickelson, as he buried putt after putt on the back nine and then birdied 17 and 18 to steal a point and win one up. Sergio Garcia has always done one thing right in his golf career, destroying the American competition in the Ryder Cup. He took 4.5 out of the five possible points in his matches at Oakland Hills in 2004 and followed up the performance in 2006 by winning all four points in his fourballs and foursomes. Like Mickelson for the United States, Lee Westwood brings a veteran presence to the team. He has not missed a cup since 1997 and went undefeated in his matches in 2004 and 2006. His Fourball and Foursome record has also been incredibly impressive at 8-5-2 and 9-4-4 respectively.
5. The Americans who have something to prove: There are a couple of Americans who have something to prove after their past Ryder Cup records have not been spectacular. Rickie Fowler will now be competing in his third Ryder Cup and has still yet to win a match, he is the only person on this team to have never compiled a win in any of these events. Matt Kuchar and Brandt Snedeker both have losing records (4-5-2 and 1-2-0 respectively). The two rookies on this team are Brooks Koepka and Ryan Moore. As far as the other seven guys, they all have .500 records or better for their overall performances. The United States hopes to see Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth and JB Holmes all duplicate their great records in their second appearances in the 2016 Ryder Cup.
As we head into one of the most exciting weekend’s in golf, there will be many moments of silence to remember the King of Golf Arnold Palmer. Palmer passed away this past Sunday at the age of 87 and was an incredible figure for the face of golf. The Americans can pay the ultimate tribute to Palmer by taking care of business on home soil and raising the trophy for the 26th time.