43rd Ryder Cup Europe team profile: Player-by-player guide
Europe enters the 43rd Ryder Cup as the defending champion but with its back against the wall, as it is a +150 underdog to retain its crown. While team USA boasts the better team of players on paper, Europe does boast the best player in golf right now in Spaniard Jon Rahm, who has been in outrageous form this year. Europe captain Padraig Harrington will be relying heavily on Rahm to come up with the goods if the continent is to have any hope of winning the Ryder Cup again. But for now, let’s break down each of Europe’s players to give a bit of a steer in your prop bets.
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A member of four previous European teams, Paul Casey arrives in Wisconsin off a solid year that featured ten top-ten finishes worldwide. A high-class ball-striker who is well suited to Whistling Straits, where he finished 12th in the 2010 PGA, Casey boasts a winning Ryder Cup record and should play his part for Europe.
Matthew Fitzpatrick’s only previous Ryder Cup appearance was a chastening one as he went 0-2-0 as Europe sunk to a defeat at Hazeltine in 2016. The straight-hitting 27-year-old has struggled recently and Whistling, set up to suit the big hitters, is not a great fit. Looks unlikely to play more than three matches.
One of Europe’s heroes in Paris three years ago, Tommy Fleetwood went 4-1-0 on debut and struck up a fine partnership with Francesco Molinari, winning all four matches with the Italian. Molinari is absent this time around and Fleetwood’s form has dipped, although Whistling should suit his game and he played well in two recent European Tour starts.
The most successful Ryder Cup player in terms of points won, Sergio Garcia surpassed Sir Nick Faldo’s record when he went 3-1-0 in Paris three years ago. The Spaniard makes his tenth appearance after receiving a captain’s pick and has been consistent over the last few months, finishing sixth at the BMW and 14th at the Tour Championship.
Tyrrell Hatton went 1-2-0 on debut in Paris but he did strike up a solid fourball partnership with Paul Casey – they pushed Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas to the last on Friday and took down Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler on Saturday. We could see that pairing again this week, although Hatton’s poor form is of concern for Europe.
Europe’s great hope for the future, two-time PGA Tour winner Viktor Hovland will make his Ryder Cup debut at a course perfect for his power-packed game. The 24-year-old finished fifth at the Tour Championship in his last PGA Tour start and, at 14th in the world, is the second-highest ranked European. He should play a significant role.
Read our best prop bets for the Ryder Cup, with Jon Rahm expected to run riot on the USA
Another Ryder Cup debutant, Shane Lowry was handed a captain’s pick by fellow Irishman Padraig Harrington few could argue that the 34-year-old, who won the 2019 British Open, does not deserve his spot. Lowry has been consistent throughout 2021, his approach play has been excellent, and he could see plenty of action.
One of Europe’s talismen over the last decade, Rory McIlroy made his Ryder Cup debut in 2010 and has featured in each session of the last four Ryder Cups. However, he went 2-3-0 in Paris and has lost his last two singles matches, including the epic duel with Patrick Reed at Hazeltine. Form is a concern, but Whistling is a good fit and he’s sure to play a big part.
Europe’s chest-thumping ‘Postman’ is a remarkable 14-6-2 from 22 Ryder Cup matches, a record which indicates why Padraig Harrington opted to hand him a seventh appearance. Poulter is one of the shortest hitters on the PGA Tour, which will be a disadvantage at Whistling Straits, but he putts like a demon when wearing European colors.
Surely destined to play every session, world number one Jon Rahm went 1-2-0 in Paris on debut but took down Tiger Woods in Sunday singles. The Spanish bull is a different beast three years later, he led the PGA Tour in strokes gained tee-to-green last season and his putting under pressure, demonstrated at the US Open, is remarkable. Europe’s key man.
Make sure you also read our player-by-player guide for USA!
Lee Westwood reached veteran status a few seasons ago but it’s testament to his longevity that he’s making an 11th Ryder Cup appearance this week. A 20-18-6 record is not quite on par with Garcia, however, and the 48-year-old has struggled in the latter half of 2021. Went 0-3-0 at Hazeltine on his last appearance and is among the shorter hitters these days.
Austrian ace Bernd Wiesberger qualified for his Ryder Cup debut via the European points list and it’s on the European Tour where he’s done most of his winning, claiming an impressive eight titles on the circuit. Yet to make his mark on US soil but may well be given the chance to shine in Friday afternoon fourballs.
Want even more great Ryder Cup insight? Check out the preview show below from our friends at the Racing Post, where even the Brits don’t expect their boys to win!
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