To many Golfers & Golf fans, the Ryder Cup is perhaps the most incredible weekend of Golf viewing in the entire calendar year and is the iconic Men's Team Golf competition between the world’s best golfers from Europe and the United States contested every two years with the venue alternating between courses in the United States and Europe.
Since 1927, 12 of the best Golfers from Europe are chosen to take on 12 of the best from the United States with 3 days of raw intensity and camaraderie taking over with incredible Golf on display too across different match formats. At the end of it all, one side takes home the coveted golden Ryder Cup trophy and holds bragging rights for the next two years.
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USA had the early dominance but the millennium has seen a real shift in the tide with Europe winnings 7 of the last 9 Ryder Cups since 2002, even though the USA has perhaps had the bigger star-cast for most of those tournaments! The 2020 Ryder Cup was postponed due to the Covid19 pandemic and will be hosted in the USA at the stunning Whistling Straits golf course that has hosted three PGA Championships (2004, 2010, 2015) in addition to a U.S. Senior Open as well.
Europe comes in as defending champions having won the last Ryder Cup in France in 2018, with what many consider to be the strongest European Ryder Cup team of all time, with names like Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Jon Rahm, Tommy Fleetwood and Ryder Cup veteran & crowd favourite Ian Poulter, amongst others. A win or even a tie for Europe in this 2021 Ryder Cup would mean the trophy heads back to Europe as the defending champions retain the title in case of a tie.
WHAT’S THE MATCH FORMAT ALL ABOUT?
Now the Ryder Cup is special because it isn’t all about players vying for the lowest score under par at the end of each round or a tournament where you see a standard leaderboard with players chasing each other down – this tournament is about the team play and the ability to combine with one another to take down some of golf’s greatest. For this week, arch-rivals on the course, like Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka for instance, turn buddies and work with each other to bring glory to their continent.
Essentially, there are a total of 28 matchplay contests with each match that is played worth one point to the overall team score for either Europe or the USA and simply put, the team with the most points at the end of the three-day spectacle is the winner – a tied match after 18 holes earns half points for each side. As defending Champions, therefore, Europe needs only 14 points to retain the trophy, while the USA must reach 14.5 to win back the Ryder Cup.
The first two days of the Ryder Cup are all about teamwork and is a delight for Sports fans with some of the world’s biggest names teaming up together for their side and displaying scenes of incredible camaraderie.
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Here’s where it gets interesting – on Friday and Saturday, the morning sessions showcase fourball matches, where each team puts forward eight players in four pairings.
“Fourball” is also known as better-ball as each pairing takes their best individual score on each hole. So if Sergio Garcia makes a three and Jon Rahm a four, it is Garcia’s better score that counts.
The afternoon is where the heat is truly on in the “Foursomes”, where two men on each team play just one ball and take alternate shots. This often leads to euphoria or apologies and friendships soured when teammates let the other man down.
The final day is all about individual brilliance under pressure and features 12 singles matches with the best in the world going head to head in a mano-e-mano contest with a colossal 12 points up for grabs for their teams. While the team Captain might leave some men out on a Friday or Saturday, EVERY member of the team plays on Sunday.
SO WHICH TOP GOLFERS ARE ACTUALLY PLAYING THIS YEAR?
The USA has 8 of the top 10 golfers in the world at the moment, but at number 1 is Europe’s Jon Rahm, who beat Tiger Wood in his singles match at the last Ryder Cup.
Here’s a look at both star-studded squads for 2021:
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Collin Morikawa - Dustin Johnson - Bryson DeChambeau - Brooks Koepka
Justin Thomas - Patrick Cantlay - Tony Finau - Xander Schauffele - Jordan Spieth
Harris English - Daniel Berger - Scottie Scheffler
Steve Stricker (Captain) - Phil Mickelson (Assistant Captain) - Fred Couples (Asst. Captain) - Jim Furyk (Asst. Captain) - Zach Johnson (Asst. Captain)
Davis Love III (Asst. Captain)
Jon Rahm - Tommy Fleetwood - Bernd Wiesberger - Tyrrell Hatton - Rory McIlroy
Matthew Fitzpatrick - Paul Casey - Viktor Hovland - Lee Westwood - Sergio Garcia Shane Lowry - Ian Poulter
Padraig Harrington (Captain) - Henrik Stenson (Asst. Captain) - Robert Karlsson (Asst. Captain) - Luke Donald (Asst. Captain) - Martin Kaymer (Asst. Captain) Graeme McDowell (Asst. Captain)
The USA perhaps has the big names yet again, but that’s something that Team Europe is perhaps pleased about, with the addition of home pressure on America’s finest. No matter which side of the fence you’re on, this weekend promises to be another sporting spectacle and will be worth the unearthly hours of viewing here in India.
Arguably the most-watched event in Golf will be broadcast live in India on Eurosport over three days starting late Friday, September 24th, from the Whistling Straits Golf Club in Wisconsin, USA.
[Image Credit: Ryder Cup USA]