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Everything You Need to Know About the 2021 Ryder Cup

The Ryder Cup

With every passing week we edge closer and closer to everyone’s favourite biennial even and in anticipation of it we have prepared a fact file containing everything you need to know about the 2021 Ryder Cup (and a bit more!!!) from the captains to the players to the venue.  

What is the Ryder Cup?

The Ryder Cup is a biennial match play event held between Europe and America (postponed in 2020 due to COVID-19). Teams consist of 12 players each and are led by a non-playing captain and non-playing vice-captains. It runs over three days, the first day features 4 Fourball and 4 Foursomes matches as does the second day. On the final day, all 12 players from each team participate to battle in singles match play. This is the only time all players are required to feature meaning that if a captain wished, certain participating players may only play one match.

The location of the Ryder Cup rotates with every iteration, from being played in the USA to being played somewhere in Europe. The teams are made up of a mixture of automatic qualifiers and captain’s picks. 

When was the Ryder Cup first played?

The Ryder Cup was first played in 1927 at Worcester Country Club, Massachussetts and was won convincingly by Team USA. But the tournament back then was very different to the one we have now. There were only 9 players (only 8 on both sides actually took part) and a total of 12 matches, 4 foursomes and 8 singles.

There would be many changes to the format over the years, but none more important than the eligibility rules for the European Team. Initially, the Ryder Cup was played between Great Britain and America but after the 19th Ryder Cup which USA won to give them a record of 15 wins, 3 losses and 1 tie, the eligibility was extended to include Ireland. Alas, it had little effect on the overall result as Team GB&I fell to 3 further defeats.

It was at this point the Ryder Cup as we know it was ushered into being with the inclusion of Continental Europe and the birth of Team Europe. Team USA maintained their superiority in the next three events but Europe finally broke the curse in 1985 and handed Team USA their first defeat since 1957.

In the 20 events played since the formation of Team Europe, the Americans have fallen behind. Europe have won 11, USA 8 and 1 tie. This doesn’t seem too unbalanced but considering that Europe have won 7 out of the last 9 meetings, it’s clear where the momentum lies.

When is the 2021 Ryder Cup?

The 2021 Ryder Cup will take place from the 24th to the 26th of September.

Where is the 2021 Ryder Cup being played?

Whistling Straits in Wisconsin is the venue of choice for this year’s event. The course has hosted a number of high-profile tournaments in recent years, including the ’04, ’10 and ’15 versions of the PGA Championship and the ’07 US Senior Open.

Who won the Ryder Cup in 2018?

Team Europe reigned supreme at the Ryder Cup in 2018 when it was played at Le Golf National, France. The standout performance was from Francesco Molinari who became the first European golfer in Ryder Cup history to win all 5 of his matches. Peter Alliss and Tony Jacklin had previously recorded 5 points in separate Ryder Cups but this was at a time when they competed in 6 matches and thus failed to attain a 100% win record.

Who are the 2021 Ryder Cup Captains?

Irishman Padraig Harrington is the captain for the European side while Steve Stricker is the captain for the American side. They have played in a total of 9 Ryder Cups between them, Harrington being the more experienced with 6 and Stricker has played in 3.

Who are the 2021 Ryder Cup Vice-Captains?

Currently Padraig Harrington has selected Luke Donald, Robert Karlsson, Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell as his vice-captains. On the other hand, Steve Stricker only has three in Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson and Davis Love III.

When are the teams announced for the 2021 Ryder Cup?

Padraig Harrington will announce his three Captain’s Picks on September 12th and Steve Stricker looks likely to announce around the same time.

Who is currently in the automatic qualification places?

Through a combination of World Ranking Points and qualification points, the following players currently sit in the automatic qualification places. Keeping in mind that there will be 9 automatic qualifiers from Europe and only six from the USA, teams appear imbalanced.

With two tournaments left before automatic qualification closes, there could be changes to these lists. It will be interesting to see if any player can rise up in this final stretch and convince either captain that they deserve a pick.

Who could feature as a Captain’s Pick?

This is always a fun moment, trying to figure out who will make it through a Captain’s Pick. Do the captain’s go for experience or youth? Someone who is consistently solid or wildly inconsistent while still being capable of great things? Will they throw a curveball?

On Europe’s side, Bernd Wiesberger, Victor Perez, Robert MacIntyre and Ian Poulter all sit on the bubble. Thomas Detry may also have some claim to be in Harrington’s considerations and also possibly Guido Migliozzi who showed a run of strong form recently. But more likely options are seasoned veterans such as Sergio Garcia or Justin Rose while 2018 hero Francesco Molinari is also a possibility.

On the American side, there’s an absolute wealth of talent who could make a Captain’s Pick. Jordan Spieth, Harris English, Patrick Reed, Daniel Berger, Patrick Cantlay, Tony Finau, Webb Simpson, Kevin Kisner, Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson and others. Each player brings their own strengths and qualities to the team.

Now we are going to put ourselves out on a limb and try and correctly predict the Captain’s picks, should the current automatic qualification stay as is. 

Alright, first things first, the Europeans. Three exceptionally experienced performers, this would mark the safe picks for Harrington. The player most at risk is probably Justin Rose although barring something major happening we can’t see anyone else making the European side.

As for Team USA, things are a bit trickier. Spieth, English and Reed are an absolute lock. Berger is as gritty as they come and Cantlay is inside the world’s top 10. That leaves the final spot and it is competitive. This is a team that will lack a bit of experience although is chock full of quality. Outside of Mickelson, the most experienced Ryder Cup player will be Dustin Johnson who will be making his 5th appearance. Thus the final pick came down to a desire for experience.

Four choices: Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Kevin Kisner and Phil Mickelson. Watson is probably the weakest choices although he would be making his fifth start like DJ. Simpson has had the best season of all 4 and seems like the safe choice. Kisner has had a poor season but has finished top ten in three of his last 5 events and won at last week’s Wyndham Championship. He’s a dogged competitor and a superb match player but the only issue is he has never played in the Ryder Cup before. And that brings us to Phil Mickelson. 12 Ryder Cups, more than anyone else in the game past or present. Erratic as they come. Swashbuckling. 51 and the oldest major winner ever. 

He has to go. But as a vice-captain. There are simply too many risks associated with him as a player. While we would love to see him duel it out with Europe, it just seems like too much of an ask. We also reckon that this is why Stricker only has three vice captains so far, so that Mickelson will be his fourth.

For his choice, Stricker is going to go with the safest and most reliable option, Webb Simpson.

Our Prediction

If these are the teams picked it really will be a battle of experience vs form. The Americans hold almost all the keys on form, with the only current European player really hitting their stride being Jon Rahm. But Europe have the experience. Casey, Westwood, Poulter, Garcia and Rose are all over 40 while McIlroy will be making his 6th Ryder Cup appearance. 

But the event is in America and the crowd will get behind their heroes. It pains us to say but if Team USA can come together as a team, something they have struggled to do in the past and Europe are certainly superior in that regard, they should win. It doesn’t help either that Bryson and Brooks are butting heads at every turn. 

Final verdict: Team USA to grab the victory if they can behave.


And that’s our fact file about the Ryder Cup. Now excuse us while we cross off another day on our calendar as we eagerly await the 24th of September. It promises to be a super event. We will have other content coming up on our social channels about the Ryder Cup so please follow us on Facebook and Instagram if you want to stay up-to-date.

Happy Golfing,

Halpenny Golf

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