Why even Europeans are cheering for Team USA in the Ryder Cup
Being European is great. We can lay claim to an Italian dress sense, a German efficiency, a French passion, and an English humor, all under one big blue and gold umbrella. But this week I’m parking that European pride and instead donning the red, white, and blue.
Why? Because the Americans (-186) have one of the strongest Ryder Cup teams in recent memory, and whatever your allegiances they are worth backing to win.
Ryder Cup 2021
Fri, September 24 2021, 11:00 AM
Since 1999, America has won three of the five Ryder Cups on U.S. soil, and that should really be an 80% strike rate had it not been for the Ian Poulter-inspired "Miracle in Medinah" in 2012. This year at Whistling Straits it’s advantage USA once again, with the Americans far comfier on home soil.
Here are four key reasons even the Europeans are cheering on Team USA in the 2021 Ryder Cup.
Winning in Wisconsin
Whistling Straits was also used for the 2015 PGA Championship, and a glance at the leaderboard from that day is interesting. The event was won by an Aussie in Jason Day, but nine of the top 16 were American including Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, and Tony Finau. By comparison, not a single member of Team Europe were in the top 16 in that tournament – and in fact, Rory McIlroy is the only member of this year’s European team who finished in the top 24 at this course in 2015.
So that’s a tick in the box for course form, and when it comes to recent form the Americans are a mile clear.
Keep it simple – form matters!
Considering each player’s last 10 tournaments, Team USA can boast a record of 40 top 10 finishes compared to Europe’s 31. Spaniard Jon Rahm is on another level for the Europeans and has seven top 10 finishes – remove those and suddenly it’s 40-24 for the U.S.
That statistic also goes some way to represent the strength and depth of this American team. Only Tony Finau and Bryson DeChambeau have less than three top 10s in their last 10 outings. While in the same category on the European side you have Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Tyrrell Hatton, Viktor Hovland, Shane Lowry, and Lee Westwood. That’s more than half their team!
Pro-Europeans will point to the fact that both teams have a current major winner in their ranks – Collin Morikawa is the Open Champion and John Rahm is the US Open Champion – but that deflects away from the bigger story. In the four Majors this year, Team USA can claim six top 3 finishes from five different teammates – Morikawa, Harris English, Brooks Koepka, Xander Schauffele and Jordan Spieth. Team Europe have two, unsurprisingly both were Jon Rahm.
The cream rises to the top
In total, Team USA has 18 top 10 finishes in the Majors this year compared to Europe’s eight – four if you remove Jon Rahm. It’s a clear divide in quality, and the gulf only gets bigger when you look past the World No. 1.
Team USA has eight players in the World top 10 and 11 Americans are in the world top 20. The only man outside of this is Scottie Scheffler who is 21st. Overall, their average World Ranking position is 8.9.
Team Europe has World No. 1 Jon Rahm, but he is their only representative in the top 10. Only four members of Team Europe are in the World’s top 20, and their average ranking position is 30.8. Europe's Ryder Cup team has more players from outside the world’s top 35 than it does in the top 25.
Pressure makes diamonds
Finally, don’t believe the Poulter-fueled myth that Team Europe is better in the matchplay environment. 64% of Team USA had a winning record in this year’s WGC Match Play with Scottie Scheffler making the final. Dustin Johnson (7-10) and Bryson DeChambeau (0-3) are the only two members of Team USA with losing Ryder Cup records. On a course packed full of American support, that myth is well and truly busted.
So, pass me a pretzel and put Whitney Houston belting out the Star-Spangled Banner on repeat. USA! USA!