With the conclusion of the PGA tour season, many golf fans may begin to feel heartbroken, but all spirits shall be lifted as the best golf event is just around the corner. In a week or two, the United States’ 12 best golfers will take on Europe’s finest in the Ryder Cup.
The PGA tour’s season concluded right here in Atlanta, at East Lake Golf Club. Prior to East Lake, there were two tournaments that were considered the “postseason”. The first was the FedEx St. Jude Championship at TPC Southwind in Memphis, TN. The top 70 golfers based on a points system competed here and eventually, Lucas Glover was crowned as the champion. The following week, the top 50 traveled to Olympia Fields Country Club in Olympia Fields, IL for the BMW championship. Winning here gives a massive payout and a big leg up at East Lake. The Norwegian, Viktor Hovland won the tournament and his hot streak would not stop there. The top 30 made their way to East Lake, but this time a FedEx champion would be crowned. The winner here would walk away with $18 million. As a way to make play throughout the year meaningful, the player who had the most points going into the tournament started off at -10 while second place started off at -8. The worse you played over the season the fewer strokes you gained at the start of the tournament. Once again, Viktor Hovland demolished his competition, winning by 5 strokes and securing the FedEx cup.
In order to make either the US or European team, the golfers had to earn points through their performance over the course of the season. Even though the teams are based on a point structure, both teams’ captains have six picks as to which golfers they want for their team.
Captained by Zach Johnson, the United States Ryder Cup team consists of: Sam Burns, Patrick Cantlay, Wyndham Clark, Rickie Fowler, Brian Harman, Max Homa, Brooks Koepka, Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele, Scottie Scheffler, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.
From a first glance, this team is stacked. The US has six of the top ten in the official world golf ranking and is headlined by Scottie Scheffler. Scheffler did not play his best to finish off the PGA season, but the US is hoping he can regain form and dominate during the Ryder Cup. Brooks Koepka is the only person on the team not on the PGA tour as he is currently on the LIV tour. He definitely deserves a spot as he is a major championship winner and is a fabulous golfer. While a majority of the team were no-brainers, a few of the captains’ picks could be looked at with some scrutiny. Most notably, Justin Thomas had a horrible season. He finished 71st on the PGA tour and did not do well in any major tournament. Zach Johnson picked Thomas because he knows Thomas’ value in the locker room and his value when he is paired with lifelong friend Jordan Spieth. Another questionable pick was Sam Burns. There is no doubt that he is a fantastic golfer and is on the rise, but was this Ryder Cup his Ryder Cup? There were a few other golfers who played better than him over the course of the season like Keegan Bradley for example. While past performance is crucial in determining the roster, the chemistry was also crucial for Zach Johnson. With his six picks, he picked guys that he knows have great chemistry and are good friends with one another. It is a bit of a boys club that is quite exclusive, but the United States is relying on these 12 guys to bring us home the cup.
Led by Luke Donald, Team Europe consists of: Matt Fitzpatrick, Tyrell Hatton, Viktor Hovland, Robert MacIntyre, Rory McIlroy, John Rahm, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Shane Lowry, Ludwig Åberg, Sepp Straka and Nicolai Højgaard.
This team is primarily PGA tour players with a few European tour players. Team Europe has some pretty serious talent. While the US has six of the top ten in the official world golf ranking, Europe has three of the top four. Everyone knows how lethal Rory McIlroy, John Rahm and Viktor Hovland can be when they are on their A game. Hovland demonstrated his A game recently at the Tour Championship at East Lake. He won easily by 5 strokes and nobody even came close to him. Along with this immense talent, Team Europe has leadership in the seasoned Justin Rose. Rose has been professional for 25 years and has seen his fair share of Ryder Cups. Also, Team Europe has a home field advantage. The Ryder Cup will be taking place at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Rome, Italy. The crowds will all favor the Europeans and while this may not seem like a major factor, it certainly is. The last couple of golfers on the European team are some of the best European tour players. They have done exceedingly well in Europe and just decided not to join the PGA tour as they would rather stay in Europe.
This Ryder Cup is going to be exciting, nerve-racking, fun and everything that an amazing sporting event should be. Starting on September 29, the best of the US take on the mighty Europeans in the Ryder Cup and this is must-watch golf.