Driving into the Ryder Cup

Driving into the Ryder Cup

Nicholas Lockwood


The beginning of the 43rd Annual Ryder Cup has officially begun with Team USA and Team Europe battling again on the clean cut fields by competitively playing the sport of golf. The nature of the Ryder Cup is inherently competitive with players from both regions facing each other in a variety of formats and matches to win the prestigious trophy specially made by Samuel Ryder. Henceforth, what exactly is the Ryder Cup, what are events that led to the Ryder Cup being played in 2021, and how exactly does scoring work in order to understand the results?


What is the Ryder Cup in More Detail and Pushed Over to the Year of 2021:

In more detail, the Ryder Cup is a golfing event that occurs every two years. Previously, the Ryder Cup was played in Guyancourt, France in 2018. In Guyancourt, the Europeans sailed to victory with 17½–10½ against Team USA. This was due to the Europeans having great games in foursomes, fourballs, and singles. It was also significant because Team Europe achieved victory within their own territory and dominated in the Le Golf National.  


Additionally, the next Ryder Cup was supposed to be in the year of 2020. However, due to the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ryder Cup was postponed into the year of 2021. Interestingly, this is the second time that there was a yearly switch for the Ryder Cup. Originally, the Ryder Cup was played in every odd year until 1999, after which it was switched over to years that were an even number. The switch occurred because of the horrific September 11th terrorist attacks that occurred in 2001. This event resulted in the tournament being delayed until 2002. 


The matches in the Ryder Cup are played in Fourballs, Foursomes, and Singles. Each type of format for the matches is played in a unique way. Singles are simply individual play and each player competes with another to win match play. Fourballs is when two teams of two players have four balls in play. This means that each player uses a ball in the match. The teammate with the lowest score for the hole wins the point which is determined by the par and amount of strokes for that specific hole. Foursomes is similar to fourballs, but there is only one ball for each team. This means that teammates alternate between hitting the ball which includes drives, normal strokes, or hits. All of these formats are determinative of if Team USA or Europe wins the Ryder Cup. 


Lastly, it is important to highlight who is playing in the Ryder Cup and where the games will be occurring for this significant event. According to the website, SportingNews, “the 2021 Ryder Cup gets under way Friday, Sept. 24 and runs through Sunday, Sept. 26. Twelve golfers will be chosen to represent Team USA and Team Europe as they compete in Whistling Straits, Haven, Wisconsin.” The leaders of each team that are competing are Steve Stricker as captain for the American team and Padraig Harrington as captain for the Europeans. 


For context relating to the team captains, Steve Stricker is an American from the state of Wisconsin. Interestingly, this is also the location of the Ryder Cup, which is significant because of the belief in “home-field advantage.” Stricker is widely known for his PGA victories including the years of 2001, 2007, and even around 2012. For the other side of the pond, Padraig Harrington is the leader for the Europeans. Originally from the country of Ireland, Harrington is also widely known for his victories internationally and for the PGA tours. On the PGA Tour Website, it states that Harrington “received an honorary degree from the University of St. Andrews just prior to the 2010 Open Championship.” Both of the team captains have had major success in golf and would be driving forces within the success of their own teams. This creates a sense of tension, competition, and the spirit to achieve the golden prize of victory. 


With this knowledge about the Ryder Cup, who will win the much anticipated Ryder Cup? Only time will tell with the results coming in on September 26, 2021, so stay tuned. 


Recap of the Results:

The results have come in for the Ryder Cup and Team USA cruised to victory and crushed Europe by a score of 19-9. Team USA dominated all three formats of the Ryder Cup and sailed to get a blowout victory. For context, according to ESPN, “Daniel Berger won the final hole in the final match for the final point in a 19-9 victory, breaking by a half-point the record margin since Europe became part of the Ryder Cup in 1979.” This was a huge record made by Team USA, and illustrates how the country dominated this tournament. For context of the US winning the Ryder Cup, below is a photo of the team holding the prestigious trophy. 

Team USA holding the prestigious Ryder Cup Trophy

Additionally, in the Friday morning foursomes, the United States won 3-1. Eventually, Team USA won 3-1 in the Friday afternoon fourballs. In the following day, the United States won Saturday morning foursomes 3-1, the exact same win total as Friday morning. Moreover, in Saturday afternoon fourballs, Team USA and Europe tied 2-2. Eventually, the singles play went on throughout Sunday and the United States smashed the Europeans with a total of 8-4. Overall, the United States won the cup with a score of 19-9. For more details about the players and teams, this can be found on the Ryder’s Cup website. 


For the specific team captains, Patrick Stricker for the United States stated to the press about the specific things that he has learned throughout playing golf. Stricker says the following: “‘I’ve learned what things have worked and what things haven’t worked. [I] have thought about this a lot the last couple of years, trying to do everything right to give these guys a great experience and hopefully come out on top.’’’ Interestingly, the ESPN article goes on further about the success of the U.S. rookies by stating how “Patrick Cantlay went 4-0 as a rookie, the best first-time U.S. appearance since Larry Nelson in 1979.” In an article on CBS Sports, Stricker states how this event made him emotional. “Speechless. These guys all came together. They had a mission this week,” Stricker said. “Brooks and Bryson wanted to play together. That’s how much they all came together. This is a new era for USA golf.” The strength of the home field advantage along with a relatively younger team furthered the confidence of an American victory along with achieving team unity. 


Lastly, what exactly went wrong for the Europeans in this specific Ryder Cup? It was more significant based on a series of bad decisions related to timing and the large deficit that the team endured during the beginning portion of the cup. The Europeans lost Friday’s fourballs and foursomes and continued their losing streak into the following days. The Independent states that “Europe captain Padraig Harrington’s request to have three wild cards rather than the four Thomas Bjorn had the previous year was approved by the European Tour’s tournament committee.” So did Harrington pick the wrong wildcards that will cost him the whole cup? It seems as if the lack of planning with the wildcards would hurt the confidence of the Europeans. The Americans also were a strong team in opposition, and the point deficit was almost insurmountable. This was brilliantly illustrated by ProGolfNow.com on how when “the time Sunday came around, the Europeans had a deficit the size of Everest.” These decisions about wildcards and the hypotheticals about match-ups ultimately cost the Europeans a victory in the Ryder Cup. 


All of these events resonated with an American victory and illustrates the competitiveness of a sport considered recreational by many people. So, what will exactly happen in the next Ryder Cup? Only time will tell. For more detailed analysis for better comprehension of the results, here are some of the highlights from the Ryder Cup this year!