Golf

Team USA captain Steve Stricker tells fans not to ‘cross the line' at Ryder Cup

 Team USA captain Steve Stricker (second left) waves to the crowds during the second preview day of the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits, Wisconsin
Phil Casey, PA Golf Correspondent

Captain Steve Stricker has called for his side’s fans not to “cross the line” as the United States bid to regain the Ryder Cup.

Stricker expects a “rowdy” atmosphere when play gets under way at Whistling Straits on Friday in his home state of Wisconsin, but the 54-year-old hopes there will be no repeat of the scenes which marred the last contest on US soil.

Europe’s Rory McIlroy bore the brunt of the heckling over the first two days at Hazeltine in 2016, ultimately having to ask for one man to be removed for being abusive during Saturday’s afternoon fourballs.

“We can go on past history with the PGA Championships here, the US Open at Erin Hills down the road, the sports fans of Wisconsin turn out in droves,” Stricker said.

“They’ll be loud. They’ll be pro-US, which we’re hoping for. But we’re also hoping they don’t cross the line, which we’ve seen at some other Ryder Cups throughout the years.

“It’s going to be rowdy. It’s going to be loud, especially the first tee, and pro-USA, obviously so we’re looking forward to that. We need that. We need that backing. It is our home turf.

“We were up in Hazeltine not too long ago and that got loud and somewhat crossed the line at times, which we don’t want to see.

“It’s a Ryder Cup. These fans have been pent up for a long time and they’re going to come out and get behind their team. It’s going to be loud, and we expect it to be loud, but again, we ask for people not to cross that line and be respectful of both sides.”

Six of the last seven Ryder Cups have been won by the home side, with Europe’s ‘Miracle at Medinah’ in 2012 the sole exception.

And European captain Padraig Harrington believes that is down to a combination of fan support and the ability of the home captain to set up the course to suit their side.

“Clearly the home captain gets a choice in how the golf course is set up, and he’s going to do everything he can in that set-up to get it to favour his players,” Harrington said. “I think it has a big influence.

“Traditionally certainly it would be tough to beat the US on their home style of golf course, and we’ve shown it’s pretty darned hard to beat us in Europe if we’re picking one of our courses that’s naturally suited to our games.

“It really is about picking the right venue and also then styling that golf course to suit your players.”

 

Here, we look at the 12 players in captain Steve Stricker’s side for the biennial contest from September 24-26.

AUTOMATIC QUALIFIERS

Collin Morikawa

Age: 24

Caps: 0

Majors: 2 (2020 US PGA, 2021 Open)

Morikawa was still a university student in his native California at the time of the last Ryder Cup, turning professional in June 2019 and starting his PGA Tour with 22 consecutive made cuts, just three short of the record held by Tiger Woods. A brilliant iron player, Morikawa became the first player to capture two different majors on the first attempt with his Open victory at Royal St George’s.

Dustin Johnson

Age: 37

Caps: 4 (2010, 2012, 2016, 2018)

Record: Won 7 Lost 9 Halved 0

Majors: 2 (US Open 2016, Masters 2020)

Played all five matches for the first time in 2018, but only won one point in the opening morning’s fourballs alongside Rickie Fowler. Won the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup title in 2020 and followed up by claiming his second major title in November with a record-breaking victory in the Masters, shooting 20 under par at Augusta National.

Bryson DeChambeau

Age: 28

Caps: 1 (2018)

Record: Won 0 Lost 3 Halved 0

Majors: 1 (2020 US Open)

Bulked up during the coronavirus shutdown and subsequently overpowered Winged Foot to win the US Open in September 2020. Was likened to an eight-year-old by his own club manufacturer after complaining that his driver “sucks” during this year’s Open and has been subject to taunts from spectators who have taken team-mate Brooks Koepka’s side in their ongoing spat. Lost all three matches on his debut in Paris.

Brooks Koepka

Age: 31

Caps: 2 (2016, 2018)

Record: Won 4 Lost 3 Halved 1

Majors: 4 (US Open 2017-18, US PGA 2018-19)

Since winning three points from four matches on his debut in 2016, Koepka became the first player since Curtis Strange in 1989 to win back-to-back US Open titles and also won the US PGA in both 2018 and 2019. Reportedly fell out with Dustin Johnson in the aftermath of the 2018 defeat in Paris, during which Koepka’s errant tee shot hit a female spectator who lost the sight in one eye as a result.

Justin Thomas

Age: 28

Caps: 1 (2018)

Record: Won 4 Lost 1 Halved 0

Majors: 1 (2017 US PGA)

The stand-out performer for the US on his debut in Paris in 2018, Thomas won four points from his five matches at Le Golf National. Only the star European pairing of Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari were able to get the better of Thomas and Jordan Spieth, with Thomas also leading from the front by beating Rory McIlroy in the opening singles.

Patrick Cantlay

Age: 29

Caps: 0

Majors: 0

Claimed his place on the team in some style, shooting 27 under par in the BMW Championship before beating DeChambeau in a six-hole play-off to claim his third win of the season. Good friends with Xander Schauffele and the pair are likely to resume their Presidents Cup partnership from 2019, which produced two wins from four matches.

WILD CARDS

Jordan Spieth

Age: 28

Caps: 3 (2014, 2016, 2018)

Record: Won 7 Lost 5 Halved 2

Majors: 3 (Masters 2015, US Open 2015, Open 2017)

Won two-and-a-half points from three matches with Patrick Reed in 2014 and the same from their four together in 2016, but partnered Thomas – much to Reed’s unhappiness – in Paris and claimed three wins from four matches before losing 5&4 to Thorbjorn Olesen in the singles. Went almost four years without a victory before winning the Valero Texas Open in April.

Tony Finau

Age: 32

Caps: 1 (2018)

Record: Won 2 Lost 1 Halved 0

Majors: 0

A five-year wait for his second PGA Tour title, which had been immortalised with an affectionate song parody, finally came to an end in the first FedEx Cup play-off event in August with a play-off win over Cameron Smith. A hugely-popular figure who shared 10th in the 2018 Masters despite dislocating his ankle when celebrating a hole-in-one during the par-three contest. Given a wild card in 2018 and thrashed European star Fleetwood 6&4 in the singles.

Xander Schauffele

Age: 27

Caps: 0

Majors: 0

Made four straight birdies in the final round of the 2021 Masters to close within two of eventual winner Hideki Matsuyama, only to hit his tee shot on the 16th into the water and run up a triple-bogey. Had the consolation of claiming a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics – his grandparents live in the city – after getting up and down for par on the 72nd hole to win by one.

Harris English

Age: 32

Caps: 0

Majors: 0

Fourth and third in the US Open in the last two years, English followed his strong showing at Torrey Pines in June by winning his fourth PGA Tour title the following week at the Travelers Championship. Also won the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January.

Daniel Berger

Age: 28

Caps: 0

Majors: 0

Won his fourth PGA Tour title in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February with an eagle on the final hole, but also impressed in the majors in 2021. Finished seventh in the US Open at Torrey Pines and eighth in the Open Championship at Royal St George’s.

Scottie Scheffler

Age: 25

Caps: 0

Majors: 0

Shot 59 in the second round of the Northern Trust in 2020 but went on to finish fourth and has yet to win on the PGA Tour, although he has also enjoyed an impressive year in the majors. After finishing 18th in the Masters, Scheffler recorded top-10 finishes in the US PGA, US Open and Open Championship and his length off the tee will be an advantage at Whistling Straits.

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