As the PGA TOUR season reaches its business end, attention starts to turn towards some of the major prizes still up for grabs. There’s the U.S. Open, still regarded as the hardest tournament to win in golf, and the switch to the Links for the British Open Championship in July. There’s also the Olympic Games in Tokyo, while the money-spinning FedEx Cup playoffs add some intrigue and interest in the final weeks of the campaign.
Heading into September, there’s another big old tournament to consider. The Ryder Cup is always a fascinating spectacle, taking naturally individualistic golfers and placing them in the boiling pot atmosphere of the team environment.
The insular instincts kicked to the curb for a few days, it’s always interesting to see which players thrive in the Ryder Cup environment and which don’t, with personal rivalries put aside in the pursuit of collective glory.
The 43rd Ryder Cup, as it will be, will take place at the Whistling Straits course in Wisconsin from September 24-26. The captain of the American team, Steve Stricker, will have 12 players at his disposal as he looks to wrestle the trophy from the Europeans.
Six of his team will be automatic picks based upon their position in the Ryder Cup standings. Currently, that roster would be Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, his arch-nemesis Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, and Xander Schauffele.
The other half-dozen players in Team America can be selected personally by Stricker, and he will have an eclectic mix of talents to choose from. Will he opt for experience or take a chance on some debutants?
Either way, the Americans have been installed as comfortable favorites in the Ryder Cup 2021 golf betting odds, so there is pressure on Stricker to get his selections right. But who will he pick? Here are some names in the frame.
While not universally popular amongst his fellow professionals, which is a pretty understated way of making the point, Patrick Reed still comes alive in this team-based environment.
He was the leading point scorer for the U.S. at the 2014 and 2016 editions of the Ryder Cup, and so Reed is surely a must-pick for Stricker.
A runner-up at Whistling Straits in the 2015 PGA Championship, Jordan Spieth’s return to form has come at exactly the right time.
Champion at the 2021 Texas Open, Spieth has delivered stacks of top-10 finishes on the PGA TOUR this year and ended up T3 at his beloved Augusta National for The Masters too.
A solid Ryder Cup record also helps his cause, and as a popular member of the team, Spieth is another who seems locked into a spot at this year’s edition.
Super consistent, Tony Finau finished inside the top ten at Whistling Straits in 2015.
He’s got everything you want in a player that can thrive in both the fourball and foursomes formats of the Ryder Cup. He’s a huge driver of the ball but has plenty of craft around the greens, and can putt well when on a roll.
Not a prolific event winner by any means, Finau is still a player of some repute and tends to save his best for the big stage.
While it hasn’t been the most consistent of seasons so far for Patrick Cantlay, he is well respected in the sport and certainly has a bright future.
There have been downs in 2020/21 but plenty of ups too, including a PGA TOUR win at the ZOZO Championship and a smattering of other top-ten finishes.
What an extraordinary tale this would be.
At 50, Phil Mickelson became the oldest major winner in history when taking down the PGA Championship in May, and he showed that there’s plenty of life in the old dog yet.
A Ryder Cup veteran, Lefty has a solid record in the event and would bring so much experience to a young and highly talented American team.
With this quintet added to the auto picks, the USA team looks formidable to say the very least.