The Ryder Cup – Hazeltine USA – 27 September 2016
In my small golfing world, the Ryder Cup is a big deal for me. Although South Africa do not participate, over the years it has probably been the most entertaining and exciting few days of Golf that comes around every 2 years. Fought out between two teams of golfers representing the USA and Europe, it is steeped in history and means a huge amount to those who participate and those they represent. The players are not paid for participating and their wives, partners are also an active part of the respective Teams. Many players admitted that playing in the Ryder Cup far outweighed the desire to represent their countries at this year’s Olympics. I will address the format which is based on various types of match play and the venue, but for this blog I want to focus on the make-up of the two Teams.
Europe announced their Team first. The first 9 players in the Team are those who automatically qualified via their rankings. The final three players are Team Captain Darren Clarke’s picks. So Team Europe lines up as follows:
Rafa Cabrera Bello (Rookie)
Matthew Fitzpatrick (Rookie)
Andy Sullivan (Rookie)
Danny Willett (Rookie)
Chris Wood (Rookie)
Lee Westwood – Captains Pick
Martin Kaymer – Captains Pick
Thomas Pieters (Rookie) – Captains Pick
USA Team Captain David Love III announced his full Team (bar one) on 12 September 2016. They use a slightly different selection format with 8 qualifiers through their rankings and four Captain’s Picks. They still need to announce the final player which they will only do on 25 September 2016…leave it up to the Yanks to create some extra suspense and keep the speculation going on a bit longer. The USA Team is as follows:
Brooks Koepka (Rookie)
One other to be announced on 25 Sept.
These two Teams are packed with some of the finest Golfers on planet Earth at this moment. Europe has dominated this event over recent times, but one thing really jumps out at me when I read through this list…the USA only have one first timer playing in this Ryder Cup. Compare this to the six Rookies for Europe. I’ll say it again until the final player is announced, the USA only have one Rookie in their Team. I believe this is significant. In the cauldron and pressure that is the Ryder Cup, experience is critical. There was nothing Team Europe could really do about it as five of these players automatically qualified and are the form European Players this year. Darren Clarke has tried to talk positively about this saying that the new Guys will bring enthusiasm and excitement to the Team whilst the six experienced Players will bring a calm confidence to the new boys.
Never the less it promises to be a great spectacle as usual. If I were going to put my money on the result, I think I would favour the USA Team. Most of their Team have competed before and they look very strong. Added to this will be the continued deafening chants from the vociferous local galleries of “USA, USA, USA USA…”. This will doubtless spur the US Team on to greater heights. I am by no means counting the Europeans out. They are also a talented bunch and in my heart, I would like them to continue their winning streak. But for now, we wait until the end of the month when the first tee shot is struck and we can soak in all the drama and action.
Watch out for more blogs in the coming weeks explaining the format and a preview of the Hazeltine course.