After three long years, the wait for another Ryder Cup ends this week as the United States and Europe take to the fairways and greens of Whistling Straits. 

Europe are the holders but the USA start as favourites for many observers, with home advantage and a formidable-looking team. 

There will be shocks along the way and there will be some expected stars of the show who end up taking a back seat as unlikely heroes emerge. 

Captains Steve Stricker and Padraig Harrington will have their own ideas of who might be best placed to make a telling impression. 

Here, Stats Perform looks at four players who could make a huge impact across the weekend in Wisconsin. 

UNITED STATES: Super Spieth ready to show his teeth

Jordan Spieth has been a resurgent force this year, finishing second at the Open Championship and in a tie for third at the Masters, while at the other two majors he finished a respectable 19th and 30th. 

The American also ended a four-year wait for a victory on the PGA Tour with a sweet win in his home state at the Texas Open in April and is primed to cap a fine year with a strong Ryder Cup. 

Spieth has mentioned in the build-up that he loves the course set-up at Whistling Straits, which he feels provides scoring opportunities on almost every hole. 

The 28-year-old also referenced his previous Ryder Cup success. He has collected eight points from a possible 11 in fourballs/foursomes, a 73 per cent scoring rate. Only Tom Watson, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus have a better ratio among USA players in the team format. 

UNITED STATES: Nice guy Finau just the man for Stricker's superstars

American teams in the past have been accused of…well…not exactly getting along. Having the ultimate good guy in the team is sure to boost morale and Tony Finau certainly fits that mould. 

But make no mistake, Finau is a guy with real pedigree – even if sometimes he hasn't quite been able to convert that into wins (his triumph at the Northern Trust last month was only his second PGA Tour title and first in five years). 

On his Ryder Cup debut, he was one of few bright notes for Team USA, with Finau winning two of his three matches – including a singles win over the otherwise unflappable Tommy Fleetwood, setting the second-best points ratio (66.7 per cent) in the American team after Justin Thomas (80 per cent, four points out of a possible five). 

Moreover, at the 2015 US PGA Championship, Finau finished 10th having shot four sub-par rounds at Whistling Straits. Finau is the sort of character who can really flourish at a Ryder Cup, particularly with home support behind him. 

 

EUROPE: Europe eye trophy Rahm raid

Jon Rahm is the man for the big occasion. He is the only player to have secured a top-10 finish at all four majors this year, while he is also Europe's most recent victor at one of the leading events, having won the U.S. Open. 

The world number one's Ryder Cup debut did not go entirely to plan in 2018, as he won only one of his three matches, but that triumph was in a singles match-up with Tiger Woods – only Tiger's second loss in the format. 

Now established at the forefront of the sport, Rahm will expect to be the man to lead Europe to glory with an improved all-round showing, justifying his status as the bookmakers' favourite to be the leading points scorer at Whistling Straits. 

EUROPE: Viktor sounds like a winner

Belgium's Thomas Pieters was the top points scorer five years ago at Hazeltine, scoring four points but ending on the losing side. With Norway's Viktor Hovland relishing his debut on the team, could there be another surprise leader on the points board? 

Hovland played college golf for Oklahoma State and has been a familiar figure on the PGA Tour, so playing in America is second nature. He was low amateur at the Masters and U.S. Open in 2019, won the U.S. Amateur, and has come of age since, jumping to a career-high world ranking of number 10 in August. 

Eight top-10 finishes and just one missed cut since the turn of the year show what he brings, and that level of consistent play is bound to appeal to captain Harrington. 

"I'd like to think I have some fans out there that maybe won't necessarily boo against us," Hovland said this week. "But if they do end up doing that, that's what they're going to do. We're still going to play golf, and if they do end up doing that, that means we're doing something good." 

The 43rd Ryder Cup begins at Whistling Straits on Friday a year later than planned, with Europe seeking to retain the trophy after hammering the United States in Paris three years ago.

Delayed by 12 months due to the coronavirus pandemic, golf's most famous team competition makes its long-awaited return after Europe's 17.5 – 10.5 victory at Le Golf National in 2019.

Ahead of the action, Stats Perform explains the format of the contest.

 

HOW THE POINTS ARE SCORED

A total of 28 matchplay contests will be played across three days, with each contest worth one point.

If a match is level after 18 holes, Europe and the United States simply take half a point each.

As holders, Europe need only 14 points to retain the trophy, while their opponents must reach 14.5 to regain the Ryder Cup.

FOURBALLS AND FOURSOMES

The first two days are all about teamwork.

On Friday and Saturday, the morning sessions will involve fourball matches, each team fielding eight players in four pairings.

The fourball format is often known as better-ball as each duo takes their best individual score on each hole. So, for example, if Rory McIlroy makes a three and Jon Rahm a four, it is McIlroy's score that counts.

After the morning fourball sessions, things get interesting in the afternoons as eight more players from each side combine for foursomes action.

In this format, the two men on each team share one ball and take alternate shots, which can lead to some apologetic words between colleagues if a poor shot is played.

SUNDAY SINGLES

A whopping 12 points are up for grabs on the final day of the competition as all 24 competitors go head-to-head in singles matches.

While the captain determines who features on Friday and Saturday, with some players heavily involved and others lightly used or even left out altogether, every single team member is involved on Sunday.

From the Miracle at Medinah to the Battle of Brookline and the War on the Shore at Kiawah Island, there is something uniquely special about the Ryder Cup on American soil.

The hoopla and the hollering, the fanfare and the ferocity. At times it felt like the cries of "U-S-A, U-S-A" were interrupted only at Hazeltine five years ago by the "I believe that we will win" chant, a nadir for the sporting songbook.

Let's go round again, then, this time at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, where the show gets under way on Friday, three days of sporting theatre set to play out in front of a global audience.

Postponed from last year, there will be crowds lining the course in a full-blown face-off between the United States and Europe, led off by the foursomes and fourballs before Sunday's singles provide a tantalising climax.

It is hard not to love the Ryder Cup, whether a year-round golf fan or not, and here are five reasons we have taken it to our hearts.


1. THE AGGRO

Team golf changes the sport from top to bottom. This individual pursuit, the every-man-for-himself nature of tour golf, goes out of the window as players compete for the collective good. Players streamed in and out of news conferences on Tuesday, each declaring their commitment to fight for their locker-room chums. Many of the world's elite have assembled this week, but there will be no champion golfer, only a team triumph come Sunday evening.

Golf crowds might irritate players at times during the regular season, but by and large they are a respectful bunch. Yet at the Ryder Cup, frenzies break out as team allegiances change the perspective of spectators. The partisanship reflects that of a football game, boorishness breaks out and is frowned on, and then it breaks out again, and again, until it is part of the fabric of a Ryder Cup weekend. Telling a Ryder Cup crowd to dial down the aggro and the noise would likely only serve to ramp it up. The crowd feels a part of the event, players can be inspired and some will cower, and of course this happens on each side of the Atlantic. Don't expect anything different this weekend, besides the fact the crowd will be overwhelmingly American, given travel limitations.

"I think that the Ryder Cup epitomises everything that's great in the game of golf," Europe's Rory McIlroy said this week. "It's competitive, but there's also a lot of sportsmanship shown. And obviously there's partisan crowds and all of that, but that's part of being in a team environment. You're going to have a majority of the crowd rooting for one team or the other.

"I think the most animated I've been in my career has been at Ryder Cups. It just brings something out of you that you don't get playing individually. There's something more there when you're playing as part of a team, and everything you do doesn't just affect yourself but affects the other 11 players, the captain, the vice captains, all the support team."


2. THERE'S A STAR MAN

Although this is a team game, somebody has to be the hero. Three years ago, Italian Francesco Molinari won all five of his matches, the first European to ever do so, and in previous editions there have been unforeseen defining performances from the likes of Boo Weekley and Christy O'Connor Jnr.

There was a certain romance about the all-Spanish partnership between Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal, master and apprentice, who won 12 points from their 15 matches together, and latterly their compatriot Sergio Garcia has gone on to amass the most points in a Ryder Cup career: 25.5 and counting.

The beauty is that the star man rarely happens to be the leading man. Tiger Woods, now a 15-time major champion, was 0-4 at the last Ryder Cup and has won just 13 of his 37 matches in the event.

This is a competition where Colin Montgomerie and Ian Poulter at least match, and arguably outrank Jack Nicklaus, despite neither European having a major to their name.


3. TENSION OFF THE COURSE

Nick Faldo was a wonderful Ryder Cup player but flopped as a captain at Valhalla in 2008, delivering a string of pairing puzzlers and a clanging confection of press-room and team-room missteps. Three years later, Graeme McDowell said: "What was missing for us? We didn't have that extra spark in the team room, didn't have that X-factor in terms of someone to get up and rally the troops. Jose Maria [Olazabal] gave a great speech on the Saturday evening when the singles line-up came out. But that was the first really emotional speech we'd had all week."

Captains know victory is everything, and their selection calls can define Ryder Cups as much as the players on the course perform. Find the right combinations and a captain can sit back and reap the benefits.

Few expect Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau to partner each other at this Ryder Cup, amid a spat most assume is ongoing. DeChambeau looked to calm the chatter about his relationship with Koepka on Tuesday, saying much of the talk had been "driven by a lot of external factors, not necessarily us two".

"We had some great conversations in Tour Championship week when we had dinner, and then this week, as well," DeChambeau said. "I sat down and had dinner with him last night, and it was fine."

Steve Stricker, you suspect, would be wise to keep them apart in competition, but eliminating any sense of rivalry or enmity within a team can go a long way towards bringing success.


4. THE KITS CAN BE BAD

This year's outfits have a touch of class about them, understated elegance on both teams, which is always disappointing.

The Ryder Cup has delivered some shockers over the years, with a prime example being the USA's waterproofs that let in water during the 2010 match at Celtic Manor, forcing team chiefs to splash out on more reliable kit from on-site merch suppliers. Already garish, with large-lettered player names on the back of the shellsuit-like jackets, they were also considered not fit for purpose by several players as the rain came down in Wales.

In 1999, the USA committed a fashion faux pas with a shirt that featured scores of framed photographs of Ryder Cups gone by. It belonged on the bargain rails, but turned out to be the outfit in which the Americans sealed their win at Brookline, the images of their triumph enshrined in folklore, but surely never to feature on the shirts of any future cup team.

Europe have typically been more demure about their outfit selections, perhaps wary of being frowned on in the clubhouse or by history.


5. THE COMEBACKS

This is a sporting contest par excellence, and Europe's 17.5-10.5 annihilation of Tiger Woods and co three years ago in France means the hosts are craving delicious revenge.

USA wildcard Jordan Spieth is likely to be a major factor, given his strong season, and the three-time major winner describes the feeling of competing as like being in the thick of a title chase at a major championship.

"Maybe it takes two or three years if you're playing really well to have four or five times you're in contention in a major, but you get to do it three, four, five times this week," Spieth said.

On the final day, that sense is amplified, and a team's overnight lead is far from any guarantee of success. At Medinah in 2012, the US team led 10-4 at one stage on the Saturday, before Europe won the final two matches to narrow the gap, Poulter pulling out all the stops with a string of birdies as he and McIlroy took down Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner.

Still, Europe were up against it going into Sunday, but Justin Rose provided a highlight amid a rush of blue on the scoreboard as he scored a stunning win over Phil Mickelson in the singles, with the likes of Lee Westwood and Garcia also coming good before Martin Kaymer ensured Europe would retain the trophy and Molinari halved his clash with Woods to win the cup outfight by a 14.5-13.5 margin.

The USA roared back from 10-6 at Brookline to also win 14.5 to 13.5, with near riotous scenes at the end as players and spectators overstepped the mark by invading the green, interrupting Olazabal's mission to keep Europe in it.

Whether Whistling Straits sees a comparable comeback, one team waltzing away to win, or a close-fought battle, remains to be seen. Samuel Ryder's notion, back in the 1920s, that a team golf event between teams from either side of the Atlantic should make for a sporting spectacle, has proven to be one of sports great prophecies.

The United States are favourites to make home advantage count and regain the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits this weekend.

An emphatic 17.5-10.5 victory at Le Golf National in September 2018 saw Europe regain the trophy under Thomas Bjorn, as the likes of Francesco Molinari, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter played starring roles.

Yet while Europe have won six successive home Ryder Cups, their recent record on American soil has been mixed.

We take a look at the last five editions of the event in the USA.

 

2016 - Hazeltine

Result: United States 17 - 11 Europe

Europe had won three Ryder Cups in a row ahead of the 2016 event, but they were in for a shock at Hazeltine.

Darren Clarke's hopes of masterminding victory suffered a hammer blow on the first morning as the United States, captained by Davis Love III, pulled off a clean sweep of the Friday foursomes.

Rookies Thomas Pieters and Rafael Cabrera-Bello impressed as Europe narrowed their deficit, but the USA regained control in the second fourball session and went on to triumph by a six-point margin, the talismanic Patrick Reed defeating Rory McIlroy in a dramatic opening singles match to set the tone for the hosts.

2012 - Medinah

Result: United States 13.5 - 14.5 Europe

Is it really nine years since the 'Miracle of Medinah'?

In the first Ryder Cup since the death of European icon Seve Ballesteros, the Spaniard's close friend Jose Maria Olazabal oversaw the most remarkable of comebacks to ensure Europe retained the trophy they had claimed at Celtic Manor two years earlier.

The USA were 10-4 up on Saturday afternoon, having won five of the day's first six contests.

However, Europe crucially won the last two fourball contests, with Poulter the architect of an astonishing turnaround in the anchor match.

Poulter and his team-mates then overhauled a four-point deficit in the singles, something that had only happened once before in Ryder Cup history, with Martin Kaymer sinking the winning putt to spark emotional scenes of celebration from the visiting team.

2008 - Valhalla

Result: United States 16.5 - 11.5 Europe

No European golfer in the professional era has claimed more major titles than Nick Faldo's six and the Englishman was also the most prolific points scorer in Ryder Cup history before Garcia moved past his tally of 25 at Le Golf National.

However, Faldo was nowhere near as successful in a miserable stint as Europe's captain, which yielded a heavy defeat to Paul Azinger's United States team at Valhalla.

The infamous 'sandwich-gate' incident - in which Faldo was photographed holding an apparent list of pairings only to then claim, somewhat unfeasibly, it was a list of lunch requests - was not the only gaffe made by the former world number one before the event had even begun.

Europe were then handsomely beaten when the action did get under way, trailing throughout on their way to a 16.5-11.5 loss.

Hunter Mahan was the leading points-scorer for the USA, who prevailed in seven of the 12 Sunday singles contests, but the likes of Anthony Kim, Boo Weekley, Justin Leonard and J.B. Holmes were among others to play starring roles.

 

2004 - Oakland Hills

Result: United States 9.5 - 18.5 Europe

In contrast to Faldo, the meticulous Bernhard Langer did not put a foot wrong in 2004 as Europe stormed to victory by a record margin at Oakland Hills.

Every member of Langer's team contributed at least a point, with wildcard selections Colin Montgomerie and Luke Donald among those to excel in a stunningly one-sided match.

In contrast, a USA team led by Hal Sutton and featuring three of the world's top 10 failed to deliver, with Chris DiMarco the only player to score more than two points for the hosts.

Montgomerie, in his penultimate Ryder Cup appearance as a player, famously holed the winning putt and went on to say: "That singles win over David Toms, in fact that whole week, rejuvenated me and my career."

 

1999 - Brookline

Result: United States 14.5 - 13.5 Europe

Prior to Europe's fightback at Medinah in 2012, the only previous instance of a team coming from four points behind in the singles came at Brookline, in distinctly fractious circumstances.

Mark James was Europe's skipper for an event sadly overshadowed by boorish abuse of visiting players by a partisan crowd and raucous scenes on the 17th hole on Sunday.

A mammoth putt from Leonard prompted an invasion of the green from the US team, even though Olazabal still had a putt of his own to come.

Ben Crenshaw's USA ultimately triumphed 14.5-13.5, but the 'Battle of Brookline' would be remembered for the wrong reasons.

In a subsequent autobiography, Sam Torrance - a vice-captain for Europe that week - described the final day of the 1999 event as: "the most disgraceful and disgusting day in the history of professional golf."

As Europe and the United States go through the motions, the ceremonies and the practice rounds that precede the serious business at Whistling Straits, spare a thought for those Ryder Cup heroes that might have been.

This will be officially the 2020 Ryder Cup, but the pandemic impact has not been merely to delay the showpiece by 12 months. The teams have taken a hefty shake-up too, since last season was so unexpectedly interrupted.

There are players that looked destined to play a big part on the Straits Course last year that will instead be far from Wisconsin, their hopes of starring having been scotched by the postponement.

Qualifying criteria were necessarily changed, to ensure it will be in-form players who line up for each team, and both the US and European teams would likely have looked radically different in September 2020.

Here is a look at some of the winners and losers of the team-picking puzzle from each side of the Atlantic.

EUROPE

Winners: Englishman Paul Casey had made a sketchy start to his bid to qualify for the team, with little to shout about before the COVID-19 crisis struck. He had time to make up ground, certainly, but Casey needed results quickly. He has since had them in abundance, with a tied-second finish at the US PGA Championship last year a reminder to Padraig Harrington that he wanted in on the action. Ten top-10 performances in 2021 catapulted the 44-year-old to automatic selection and a fifth appearance on the team.

Norway's Viktor Hovland was not in the conversation 18 months ago, when the tours ground to a mid-season halt, although a win at the Puerto Rico Open in February 2020 saw him leap from 100th to number 60 on the world rankings. The Oklahoma State University alum's form since golf resumed has been nothing short of spectacular, with 24-year-old Hovland climbing to a career-high ranking of 10th in August. Since the turn of the year, he has had seven top-five finishes, including a win at the BMW International Open, and his hot form could mean the heavy metal fan cranks up the dial for Europe.

Losers: Danny Willett and Victor Perez were firmly in the picture when the tours halted in March 2020, but neither will be making an appearance. Englishman Willett, the former Masters champion, has slumped from inside the world's top 40 golfers to outside the leading 150 on the rankings after a wretched run of results that meant he stood no hope of a wildcard.

Perez's form dipped at an inopportune moment, after he previously stayed firmly in the mix. Across his last five tournaments, Perez has endured five missed cuts – at The Memorial and all four of the majors – and no top-10 finishes, meaning the Frenchman could also not realistically be thought of as deserving of a call from Harrington.

Perez wrote on Twitter: "I am, of course, disappointed to not be selected to the team. However, this is an opportunity for me to evaluate, become stronger and apply new lessons to all parts of my career, and for that I am grateful."

UNITED STATES

Winners : The US were planning on picking four wildcards but switched that to six amid the COVID-19 uncertainty, meaning the automatic selections also shrank from eight to six, and their line-up for Whistling Straits looks markedly different to how it surely would have turned out a year ago.

On the fringes of the world's top 50 and emerging as a bright talent, in March 2020 Collin Morikawa still needed to get a move on to come into captain Steve Stricker's thinking. The 24-year-old is now a two-time major winner, ranked the number three best golfer on the planet, and he led the final US points list, reflecting his dramatic surge. Bryson DeChambeau would likely have found the results to make the team, given he was coming into form after a rocky spell; now he is a U.S. Open champion and has the big personality to take the Ryder Cup by storm. Patrick Cantlay also eventually qualified by right, winning the Tour Championship and consequently the $15million FedEx Cup, earning a debut.

Losers : All-time great Tiger Woods was still in the picture when global sport called a hiatus, yet the last time the 15-time major winner was seen in public he was struggling by on crutches after the February car crash that police said he was lucky to survive. Three-time Ryder Cup man Patrick Reed – 'Captain America' – was in the frame for an automatic pick, too, along with Gary Woodland and Webb Simpson, until the world changed.

Eighteen months down the line and those four have been usurped, with Stricker taking the players ranked seven to 10 on the points list (Xander Schauffele, Tony Finau, Jordan Spieth, Harris English) as wildcard picks but deciding against choosing 11th-placed Reed or 13th-placed Simpson. He also selected the players in 12th and 14th (Daniel Berger and Scottie Scheffler).

Reed, having been troubled by pneumonia and an ankle injury lately, took his omission "like a true champion", Stricker said. Six rookies feature for the US, Stricker looking to the future but backing his team to succeed in the present.

The 43rd edition of the Ryder Cup is almost upon us. A year later than initially planned, the finest golfers Europe and the United States have to offer will do battle at Whistling Straits.

Padraig Harrington's team will be looking to defend the title Europe clinched in Paris three years ago, while Steve Stricker's men will hope to make home advantage count as the USA look to win the tournament for only the third time since the turn of the century.

Ahead of the action in Wisconsin, Stats Perform looks back at some of the most memorable moments from tournaments gone by.

 

Miracle at Medinah, 2012

Where else to start other than a moment that is widely considered to be one of sport's greatest ever fightbacks. The "Miracle at Medinah" took place in Illinois nine years ago, with the Chicago crowd witnessing a remarkable European recovery, inspired by Ian Poulter – who will be playing again this weekend.

Europe were 4-10 down heading into the final day, with the USA needing just 4.5 points to win. Yet Poulter, who won all of his matches, got the ball rolling for the visiting team, who took 8.5 points from a possible 12 on the Sunday. Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner offered the hosts hope, but Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer won their matches to leave Tiger Woods needing to beat Francesco Molinari to secure a tie. The round was halved, ane Europe triumphed 14.5 to 13.5.

 

Battle of Brookline, 1999

Thirteen years prior to the Miracle at Medinah, the USA forged an incredible comeback of their own at Brookline, Massachusetts. Europe held a 10-6 lead heading into the final round, yet were pegged back as the USA, buoyed on by a vociferous crowd that riled some of the European players, with Colin Montgomerie coming in for particularly strong treatment, won the first six matches of Sunday's play.

Yet the decisive moment came when Jose Maria Olazabal – who would go on to lead Europe to victory at Medinah - lost three successive holes to Justin Leonard when he had been four up with seven to play. The match was tied on the 15th when the American holed a 40-foot putt, and on the 17th, Leonard struck a brilliant birdie, with the US team and fans storming onto the green in celebration as the half-point required to complete the comeback was secured. Olazabal still had a 25-foot putt to make to send the match to the 18th, only for the Spaniard's effort to trickle wide.

Torrance ends US dominance, 1985

The Belfry is entrenched in Ryder Cup history and, in 1985, Europe earned their first win in what was the fourth attempt since the team had spread to include the continent and not just players from Great Britain and Ireland.

Seve Ballesteros was in exceptional form, but it was left to captain Sam Torrance to sink a 22-foot putt, inflicting the United States' first defeat since 1957.

Clarke leads emotional European victory, 2006

Having taken a three-month break from golf following the loss of his wife, Heather, to cancer, Darren Clarke was named as a wildcard pick by Europe captain Ian Woosnam for the 2006 Ryder Cup, hosted in Clarke's native Northern Ireland at the K Club.

Clarke produced a performance for the ages, winning both of his pairs matches and going on to defeat Zach Johnson in his singles game. "I doubt there was a dry eye in the house," said Clarke afterwards, as Europe went on to secure an 18.5-9.5 win.

 

Langer fluffs his lines, 1991

Possibly the tightest Ryder Cup contest in history came at Kiawah Island, South Carolina, with the US taking a slim lead into the final day. However, by the time the final match rolled around, they needed half a point to reclaim the title.

It came down to the final hole, too. Bernard Langer required to hole a six-foot putt to tie his match with Hale Irwin, and Europe would keep their hands on the trophy. Yet he failed to do so, the ball rolling off the lip and away, with the US triumphing for the first time since 1983.

The concession, 1969

The Ryder Cup had been dominated by the United States from the end of World War II, with Great Britain (as the team was then) winning only one, in 1957.

However, the first tie in the Ryder Cup was recorded at Royal Birkdale in 1969, when American great Jack Nicklaus conceded a three-foot putt to Tony Jacklin at the 18th hole – the moment going down as one of the most famous gestures of sportsmanship. 

Europe captain Padraig Harrington has selected Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia and Shane Lowry as his wildcard picks for the Ryder Cup, but there is no place for Justin Rose on the 12-player roster.

Rose has competed in five of the last six editions of the biennial tournament, but he was overlooked by Harrington after a poor season on the PGA Tour that saw him fail to make the top 125 on the order of merit list.

Harrington opted for experienced names in Garcia and Poulter, while Lowry was given a reprieve of sorts after being knocked out of the automatic selection places when Bernd Wiesberger finished tied-20th at the BMW PGA Championship on Sunday.

Wiesberger, Poulter, Garcia and Lowry join Jon Rahm, Tyrrell Hatton, Paul Casey, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Viktor Hovland, who all qualified through the rankings.

"I am absolutely thrilled with my team, with all of our picks we have the strongest 10, 11 and 12 we've ever had," Harrington said on Sunday.

Asked about the inclusion of Poulter, who is set to compete in his seventh Ryder Cup, Harrington said: "He is undefeated in singles. He lifts himself, he lifts his partners, he lifts the team.

"I'm getting a player who is in probably the best form of his life. He consistently motivates people around him. That's so important to the team. I know I have players who are good enough to deliver and Poulter is at the heart of our team."

Europe are looking to retain the trophy at Whistling Straits later this month following their 17.5-10.5 triumph over the United States in Paris three years ago.

USA finalised their squad on Wednesday, with captain Steve Stricker selecting Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele among his wildcard picks.

Schauffele was one of four rookies chosen by Stricker along with Daniel Berger, Harris English and Scottie Scheffler, with Tony Finau – part of the beaten side in 2018 – completing the captain's picks.

Collin Morikawa, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay had already locked in spots for the USA.

Bernd Wiesberger and Lee Westwood secured their places in Europe's Ryder Cup team as Billy Horschel prevailed on a dramatic final day of the BMW PGA Championship. 

Four automatic places were there for the taking at Wentworth. Tyrrell Hatton and Matt Fitzpatrick were already all but assured of their spots at Whistling Straits, with Wiesberger, Westwood, Shane Lowry and Justin Rose fighting to book their tickets. 

Lowry and Rose entered the final 18 holes with work to do and both ended up falling short. Rose's seven-under 65, which saw him finish three strokes behind Horschel on 16 under, was not enough to get him on either the European or World points lists. 

Irishman Lowry needed to finish in the top eight to qualify but endured a disappointing final day, a one-under 71 seeing him go 12 under for the tournament and leaving the 2019 Open champion down in tied 17th. 

Wiesberger carded a level-par 72 as he closed on 11 under, that score sufficient to dislodge Rory McIlroy from the European points list. 

Meanwhile, Westwood is set to equal Nick Faldo's record for Ryder Cup appearances by playing for Europe for the 11th time. 

Like McIlroy, Westwood qualifies via the World points list despite a five-over 77 that left him down in a four-way tie for 71st. 

At the sharp end of the leaderboard, it was Horschel who emerged from a tightly packed field thanks to his final-round 65. 

He was tied with Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Jamie Donaldson and Laurie Carter on 18 under, but a tremendous approach over the water at the last gave Horschel a simple putt for birdie. 

Carter was unable to replicate Horschel's feat, giving the American his second European Tour title of the year and his first triumph in a Rolex Series event. 

Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer have been appointed as vice-captains by Team Europe skipper Padraig Harrington for the Ryder Cup.

Both players bring a wealth experience to Harrington's backroom team for the rescheduled clash against the United States, which will take place at Whistling Straits in September – 12 months on from the original date that was scuppered by the coronavirus pandemic.

McDowell was also part of the set-up at Le Golf National in 2018, where Europe – led by Thomas Bjorn – hammered their American counterparts 17.5-10.5.

The Northern Irishman has featured four times as a player (2008, 2010, 2012, 2014), accumulating nine points from 15 matches – including claiming the winning point at Celtic Manor in 2010.

"I decided on Graeme as a vice-captain a long time ago. He was vice-captain in 2018 with me and I liked what he brought to the team room," Harrington said of the 2010 U.S. Open champion.

"He's quite an authority, confident in what he's doing and saying and knows the scene. The only reason he would not have been a vice-captain was if he was going to be a player.

"Graeme is a strong influence and the players look up to him. When he speaks, people listen, but he doesn't speak unless he's got something to say. I definitely saw that when he was vice-captain previously – players pay attention and follow him."

 

Kaymer too brings plenty of Ryder Cup experience to the table. The German has won 6.5 points from four appearances at the biennial tournament (2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016).

Undoubtedly his most famous contribution came when he sank the winning putt in 2012 to complete the "Miracle of Medinah", where Europe overturned a 10-6 deficit on the final day to retain the trophy.

Whistling Straits is also the scene of Kaymer's 2010 US PGA Championship triumph, which led to his debut in the Ryder Cup. 

"Martin is somebody I wanted as a vice-captain because he has a great personality and brings a calmness, a European element, and a lot of confidence with him," Harrington said of Kaymer, who also won the 2014 U.S. Open. 

"The fact that he won around Whistling Straits also brings that level of authority and assurance that you need.

"Martin will also bring a nice emotion to the team, which is very important. He's somebody who will help with the atmosphere, put an arm around a player or two and bring that level of authority and belief that we may need during the week."

 

Billy Gilmour is a huge part of Scotland's future after his standout performance against rivals England at Euro 2020.

Those were the words of Scotland boss Steve Clarke after his side impressively kept their last-16 qualification hopes alive with a 0-0 draw at Wembley on Friday.

Chelsea prospect Gilmour, 20, was handed his first international start for the massive match, which ended in the first goalless draw between the two nations in 33 meetings at Wembley.

Despite his inexperience, the composed Gilmour led Scotland for passes (44), completed passes (40) and passes in the opposition half (24), while he gained possession eight times, more than anyone else on the pitch.

Gilmour got a huge reception from the Scotland fans when he was replaced by Stuart Armstrong in the closing stages, with Clarke thrilled by what he had seen.

"It was nice for him to get that start, a big platform – he is a big player, Billy," said Clarke.

"I've said for a long time he'll be a big part of the future of Scottish football.

"We know what we've got in the camp, we'll try to manage that and keep a lid on things. Performances like that will do him no harm whatsoever.

"Stephen O'Donnell was exceptional, and Billy was just behind him. 

"Getting Kieran [Tierney] back into the three and having Scott [McTominay] there [in defence] gives us the platform to build from the back. Billy Gilmour and Callum McGregor [in midfield] are both good footballers. 

"We knew coming here we couldn't just sit and defend for 95 minutes, we knew when we had the ball, we had to take care of it and try to create our own chances. 

"That's what we managed to do."

 

Scotland ended the match with more attempts (11-9) and shots on target (2-1) than England, though the hosts edged the xG battle (1.6-0.7), given John Stones had headed against the post early on.

Having recovered well from their first loss to the Czech Republic, Scotland now face a must-win clash with Croatia at Hampden on Tuesday as Group D concludes.

Scotland captain Andy Robertson also had praise for Gilmour as he looked ahead to that contest.

"I'd put Gilmour's performance right up there," said the Liverpool defender.

"Nothing phases him. I believe he can have as many caps as he wants for Scotland. He's got a big future, but the here and now's pretty good for him too.

"I think we did deserve to win but we will take a point, it keeps us alive.

"But it's important we use the feeling, the feeling, the fans being happy with us going into Tuesday and try to use it to get a positive result to get out of the group."

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