The 41st Ryder Cup Matches

Welcome back to The Dormie! What a finish at the FedEx Cup last weekend! Congrats to Rory! I should have been a shameless fan and picked him. The FedEx Cup has certainly risen in terms of meaningfulness. When it was first introduced, it wasn’t the BIGGEST deal to fans; it was to players, sort of, because of the ten million dollar check you receive. Even with the massive incentive, it never truly held a candle to a major or this week’s event. It still doesn’t, but the FedEx Cup that both fans and players have come to embrace and the excitement around it builds each fall. There have been talks of moving the final round earlier, mainly due to competing against football on TV. Whether it’s held in August or September, the FedEx will be a year-end individual tradition golf fans will tune in to watch.

Now, on to this week. The only weekend where chanting “USA!” at the top of your lungs is not only allowed, but encouraged:

The 41st Ryder Cup Matches

European has won Cup three events in a row

Europe has won Cup three events in a row

Hazeltine National Golf Club: Par 72, Yardage: 7,628 yards

Hazeltine National will host the Ryder Cup for the first time; the course has held the US Open twice, the US Amateur once, and the PGA twice. Hazeltine is known for being a hilly golf course with narrow fairways and small greens. The final three holes are amongst the most difficult on the course, perfect for a dramatic match play event. The par-5 16th hole (above) features a long drive over Hazeltine Lake while the green is a raised peninsula. The par-3 17th hole features four bunkers and two water hazards around the green while the par-4 18th has plenty bunkers of its own.

TV Coverage/Sessions (Eastern Time):

Friday: Session 1, Foursome: 8:35am to 1:00pm, Session 2, Fourball: 1:00pm to 7:00pm (Golf Channel)
Saturday: Session 3: 8:35am (9:00am for TV) to 1:00pm, Session 4: 1:00pm-7:00pm (NBC)
Sunday, Singles: Noon-finish (NBC)
On Friday and Saturday, the morning session will be either a four-ball (where the lowest of the four players wins the hole for his country) or a foursome (aka: alternate shot, the two golfers for each country alternate shots until one team wins the hole). Each session will have four matches each worth 1 point. If the match is tied, each team gets a half point; they’ve “halved” the match. Sunday features all 12 golfers for each team facing off with the other country’s 12 golfers in a one-on-one Singles match. With 8 points up for grab on Friday, 8 on Saturday, and 12 on Sunday, it takes 14 1/2 of the 28 available points for the United States to win the Ryder Cup. It only takes 14 points for Europe to retain the Cup.

As I was taking my train home on Thursday, Friday morning’s parings were announced

Pretty awesome kick-off. Patrick Reed is the personification of American Ryder Cup Patriotism.

The Phil/Rickie pair is probably the most tenured duo, they’ll be leveraged on heavily.

Interesting grouping here, might be down to the wire.

Westwood is the most seasoned European, perfect to put with a rookie. DJ and Kuch will have their hands full.

The Teams:

Team Europe:

Darren Clarke (Non-Playing Captain)
Rory McIlroy (4th App.)
Danny Willett (Rookie)
Henrik Stenson (4th App.)
Chris Wood (Rookie)
Sergio Garcia (8th App.)
Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Rookie)
Justin Rose (4th App.)
Andy Sullivan (Rookie)
Matthew Fitzpatrick (Rookie)
Lee Westwood (10th App, Captain’s Pick)
Martin Kaymer (4th App, Captain’s Pick)
Thomas Peters (Rookie, Captain’s Pick)
The Europeans feature heavy-hitters, both in Ryder Cup experience and in 2016 wins. Europe has the reigning Masters Champion (Willett), British Open Champion (Stenson), Olympic Gold Medalist (Rose), and FedEx Cup winner (McIlroy)–all four look to leverage their hot-streaks into team points. Rose has the best Ryder Cup winning percentage of them while Willett is the rookie of the four. The grand total of six rookies is by the biggest wild card of the Ryder Cup but none of them are to be taken lightly. Cabrera-Bello went deep into the WGC Match Play earlier this year and Matt Fitzpatrick won the US Amatuer in 2013 (which is determined by match play).

Team USA

Davis Love III (Non-playing captain)
Dustin Johnson (3rd App.)
Jordan Spieth (2nd App.)
Phil Mickelson (11th App.)
Patrick Reed (2nd App.)
Jimmy Walker (2nd App.)
Brooks Koepka (Rookie)
Brandt Snedeker (2nd App.)
Zach Johnson (5th App.)
J.B. Holmes (2nd App.)
Rickie Fowler (3rd App.)
Matt Kuchar (4th App.)
Ryan Moore (Rookie)
The Americans feature a solid lineup with plenty of Ryder Cup experience and major champions. Captain Davis Love III has opted to use a pod system for practice meaning the players were divided into three “pods” of four. This system is used with the idea of getting the players to practice with who they’ll be playing with in the matches so that they’ll bond with the potential partners in a shorter period of time. I like the concept but I’ll need to see the execution this weekend.

Storylines:

Longtime readers will know my overt patriotism and may noticed my scepticism in the last section. Well the reason for that is the Ryder Cup drought for the Americans as their last win was in 2008. Don’t get me wrong, I’m wearing my US Ryder Cup pullover as I’m writing this, but my scepticism is certainly warranted especially after the last Ryder Cup. 2014 was a blow out in Europe, 2012 was a choke job by the Americans in the US, and 2010 was a win on home soil for the Europeans. The Ryder Cup takes home-field advantage to a new level (the players encourage chanting and jeering) but not to the level of a blowout. The real excitement of the Ryder Cup comes from that nationalism and excitement surrounding the event. From Justin Rose losing $100 yesterday to Danny Willett’s brother’s hysterical trash talk on us Americans (and Danny, we appreciate the apology, but it was all in good fun), this event brings out the best of the Internationalism that is professional golf. The players take just as seriously as a major and go CRAZY when they clinch to win (or retain) the Cup. I’m not going to make a make pick because I’ll be rooting heavily for my homeland but it’s also partially because this is a toss-up. The Americans will need to play solid matches against seasoned veterans of Europe. Don’t let the talk of the Europeans having so many rookies fool you. Just like how Danny Willett was someone who made his name on the European Tour and thus was more “unknown” to the average golf fan when he won The Masters in April, many of Europe’s rookies could have a career-defining moment this weekend. We’ll just have to see how the rookies handle the new environment that is Ryder Cup Weekend.

Who do think will sink the winning putt for their team Sunday? Let me know in the comments

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